In the Lean Startup, Eric Ries applies the methods of lean manufacturing to software startups. One of his core concepts is a cycle of progress where you build, measure, and learn. The cycle is important because you build on past lessons with every iteration.

As it pertains to growth, the same cyclical model can be broadly applied. Nature, agricultural, human growth, education, etc. run on cycles with seasonality. As an example, if you cut down a tree you see the annual cycles written in rings across its trunk with each year showing successive growth.

One of Ries’s contributions with his cycle of build, measure, and learn was to propose that by intentionally changing the scope, you could change the speed with which the cycle occurred. Smaller scopes could be processed quicker. This had the effect of acquiring intelligence about what works quicker which leads to faster growth.

For your business, one thing to consider is how a cycle paradigm might apply to your objectives. Rather than taking on a big project to fuel growth, are there versions that would provide key information or value sooner? Could you intentionally shrink the scope to increase your velocity?

For example, I’m working on a new marketing plan for 2023. One approach would be to think of all the likely things that could drive sales in 2023 and set them out as objectives. Run an SEO campaign, run a paid ads campaign, do outreach, network, publish a book, set up speaking gigs, etc. The cycle approach might instead answer, what’s the version one of an effective marketing strategy? For us, it would be to simply update the messaging on our website and social profiles to clearly articulate the new position and setup some conversations with people in the new market.

The point isn’t simply to chunk work into smaller components, but rather to scope objectives in a manner that makes it quicker to get to value. Sometimes that value is tangible, like leads from a funnel. Sometimes it’s intangible, like intelligence that tells you a channel will be difficult to generate work through.

The trick is to intentionally design that loop with the knowledge that successive iterations will follow.

Rome wasn’t built in a day… a 24 hour cycle. But it was built layer upon layer, useful technology on top of useful technology.

Featured image is the Captoline Wolf, the famous and often copied sculpture depicting the mythical founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, being suckled by a she-wolf.