CEO Secrets: CitizenLab

"The speed at which you can get your primary product out to your customers will often determine your success, or failure, in business, says Aline Muylaert co-founder of CitizenLab."

Thursday September 2

At 27 years old, Ms. Muylaert is quite wise. We couldn't agree more with her viewpoints.

"When building a business, the most important virtue is speed",
says 27 year-old Muylaert, speaking from the CitizenLab headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
"Speed is more important than perfection."

We also advise clients to get a solution up and running fast, even if it's not ideal. Here are few tips to help produce faster web development results:

  • Start by separating the 'want' from the 'need' as this will help make a clearer 'short-list' of requirements to focus on
  • Be prepared to find compromise solutions and work-arounds rather than going down rabbit holes or branching off on tangents
  • If less critical parts turn out to be more time consuming than originally planned, consider putting them off for future releases
  • When in doubt, simpler is always better to get the ball rolling
  • Most important in web development - think 'journey', not 'destination' as web platforms are always 'works in progress'

"We built our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in less than three months"
and that's really fast", she says. "I think you need to build fast, fail fast and learn from that."

The world is moving at an increasing pace, companies that do not "fail fast" will be left behind. But how do you "learn from that" as Ms. Muylaert puts it? From our experience it's important to add tools to measure success and failure. This is where most clients will want a 'Dashboard' with lot's of pretty charts and graphs, and we don't disagree, they are helpful. However they should be viewed as 'icing on the cake'. Why? They will be of little use with inconsistent data.

Once again, keep it simple in the beginning - focus on getting started. These are the steps we usually advise clients to take:

  1. First, set up a basic database to experiment with collecting data - focus on quantifiable data like numbers, dates, yes/no, categories, etc.
  2. Once you have some real data, start adjusting the fields - some data you thought was important won't be, while other fields added later may hold significant value.
  3. Next, after refining and collecting data for 3 - 6 months (more or less depending on volume), you will be ready to add some 'Pivot Tables' for an aggregated view of data (weekly, monthly, annually, etc.), typically for top management, e.g. high level view
  4. Finally, once there is a good steady stream of quantifiable data, graphs and charts in a 'Dashboard' view can be added.

Original Article Information:
  Dougal Shaw, Business reporter
  BBC News
  Wednesday July 7
  CEO Secrets: CitizenLab founder shares her business advice