by Asim Jalis
An interesting concept we haven't talked about much but which
relates to our conversations about leverage and execution is
momentum. Momentum is also a kind of leverage. It leverages the
last action. Each action builds on the other creating a much
larger impact that the actions would have had alone.
Momentum is the idea of creating a synergy, or a whole that is
greater than the sum of the parts, except the parts are
distributed in time rather than in space.
A software product is a synergy between its components. Each
component leverages the others. The entire product might leverage
existing infrastructure, such as the internet and the credit card
systems, and so on. This is all leverage in space.
Momentum is leverage in time. It is how one ad campaign
dove-tails with a different promotion and creates an effect
bigger than each individual event.
You can see the same thing in 4th of July firework displays. The
fireworks build up to a crescendo, the momentum builds up and
culminates in the grand finale. Without the momentum build-up the
fireworks would not have the same effect.
But momentum is not just a matter of doing everything at once.
Imagine a fireworks display in which all the fireworks go off at
once. The sky lights up and there is a big blast and then it's
all over. This will not have the same impact as a display that
builds up gradually. To leverage properly each phase must execute
separately so that they can build up on each other.
Here is a simple way to decide when to kill a project: kill if it
does not build momentum.
Momentum is the opposite of work. If you own a business with
momentum the business will run itself. You merely have to be
there to make sure it moves in the right direction.
Imagine you are driving on the highway. Momentum is what keeps
you going. It's much easier to overtake another car using
momentum than using acceleration. Acceleration is hard work.
Momentum is a freebie.
When people first study Newtonian mechanics the concept of
inertia seems like magic. How can something keep going for ever.
And yet this idea is everywhere.
Momentum is the idea that after some point you don't need to feed
the pipe. That things keep going without additional expenditure.
Now let me connect this with the idea of creating value. It's not
sufficient to create value. It's just as important to create
momentum in the value creation. Giving a man a fish creates value
for a day, but teaching him how to fish creates momentum.
Malcolm Gladwell's idea of the tipping point is that if you push
in the right way, eventually a process crosses a tipping point,
where it has sufficient momentum that it carries itself forward.
Fashions, diseases, fires, avalanches are all like this. They
build up on themselves, they accumulate energy and eventually
they reach a tipping point where their momentum becomes
self-sustaining. Each action leads to the next and the force