“Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick”

I would hazard a guess that most people have heard the old poem:

Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack jump over the candlestick

A search on Google traces the origin to one of two possibilities: The tendency for “Calico Jack” Rackham, the notorious pirate, to narrowly evade capture for many years, or the popular past-time (there was no internet in those days) of jumping over candlesticks as a game, and having good luck or your fortune come true if you didn’t extinguish the flame.

Whatever the source is, the mantra of “Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick” certainly applies when going viral.

Speed of software development is very important, as taking too long to bring a product to market means someone else will beat you to it. Being able to change mid-stream is also critical, as you may have the “perfect app” only to see someone else bring a competitive product to market and you have to figure out a “more better” solution fast.

There are enough examples of companies taking too long to bring a product to market, or not updating fast enough to keep up with the competition. Can you say Blackberry? They had the market cornered on mobile phones with email capabilities—only to see the iPhone and Android phones obliterate them. Failing to be nimble and quick when faced with a superior product resulted in them becoming practically irrelevant in the smartphone revolution.

I’m a firm believer in Agile/Scrum software development because its main focus is on fast and nimble software development. Whether you believe in Agile or Scrum is not the point of this post—whatever your software development method, you need to get the project done and out the door fast, and you need to respond to market challenges quickly without laborious and lengthy discourses on what the changes need to be.

I recommend a third line to this nursery rhyme:

Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack be right

Your organization needs to adapt to changing market conditions, your organization needs to bring new products to market before that target market expires or is otherwise fulfilled, and the new products have to do what the customer needs and wants.

Build an organization that does all three and you’ll become the entrenched market leader. Stop doing those three as an organization and you will become irrelevant.

Going viral is one hell of a ride. To achieve viral growth and keep it going, be nimble, be quick and get the products right.


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