Try - Master - Teach

If you only have 10s:

Most projects die around:

  • 6 months;

  • 18 months;

  • and 36 months.

The main factors responsible for their fall are:

  • their team alignment;

  • their product market fit;

  • and their organizational development.

Try, master, teach is probably the best method to overcome any obstacles when developing projects.


Now if you have 10mn:

6 months

6 months is the time you need to realize that your co-founder is not the right one (at least at that current moment in your life) or that you shouldn’t be part of this team.

You had a project that could revolutionize the (your) world but let’s face it, you simply don’t have the same vision or you didn’t find any rythm in what you were doing together. Both of you couldn’t make the other shine.

Retrospectively you notice that you were missing opportunities, lacking actions and that all tedious tasks that needed to be done to make it work were just too… tedious.

There were good moments too when you enjoyed starting fresh, dreaming big, making new connections and learning new skills.

6 months is the optimal time period to try something new with somebody. Whatever the results, all your trials, errors and successes have value for your future.

Remember the best of it and if you can keep track of each other, who knows, it might work next time.

Try

When facing a problem, or - let’s be more positive - when seizing an opportunity, you first need to try. It doesn’t matter if you fail or not. As long as you test, enjoy and practice, you will definitely get better. Be as curious as possible to new challenges and experiences.

When you don’t know, take your time if you want to observe or analyse but if you don’t jump you will never really know the feeling. Seize small opportunities around you to try something new everyday: speaking with somebody, helping someone, testing an idea.

Dare to ask any question you might have when you don’t understand, listen to people that started a bit earlier and learn from their experience while keeping your North Star and your own way.

Trying is about challenging yourself to make the leap. It is then the intensity you will deploy that will determine if you reach your goals.

Trying is about trusting in yourself and people around you.

18months

18 months is the time you need to realize that your product or service didn’t have any or not enough value for your target market.

You probably shipped your product too late, got in love with it and failed to realize that it was not satisfying anybody. Maybe you even prevented people from using your product in a different way instead of understanding why they were there.

Worst you might realize the market you are going after is too small to ever be able to reach your vision or to sustain yourself. Or it is that you didn’t segment your market well enough and got lost in aiming widely and customizing everything you do.

Regarding customers, you didn’t solve the puzzle of attracting them. They didn’t pay attention to you, didn’t show any interest in what you offered. The desire to take action was out there but in your case it was just not there.

Competitors - luckily you had some, otherwise there might not have been any market at all - that popped before or after you are eating all the cake. You are too slow and now you are obsessed with them.

You are now either facing the wall or discovering the world of pivoting to focus on new customers or on a completely new product, but remember that sometimes you should let it go instead of stacking up sunk costs.

At the same time you have spent so many hours on what you were doing that you have been leveling up several new skills. Deciding which one were the most fun and useful to develop is up to you.

Master

Once you have tried, it is time to move on and specialize in something. The best is to choose among all your trials what you have liked best and learn further about it. You need to deep dive in one subject and understand it well enough so that you can perform it perfectly and understand it fully.

Think about a tennis player that has practiced so many times that he could close his eyes when hitting the ball.

Identify all the opportunities that can help you either save time or enjoy time. Create the perfect environment for you to grow.

Don’t get too cocky as you progress, in many martial arts, the black belt doesn’t mean you have reached the top, it means you are ready to start learning.

Be humble as you reach an expert level in a field because you might be just at a fraction of someone’s expertise in mastering an even broader field. Get inspired by them instead.

Focus on the process, the training and the resilience as the last two kilometers are the most difficult ones in a marathon. If you can learn the first 10% in one day, mastering the last % might take you months or years.

Do what you say, and do it more efficiently. But never forget that you shouldn’t do it alone.

36 months

36 months is the time you need to realize that you are not the right person for the next challenge. Probably because you don’t enjoy what you are doing anymore. What brought you to this field of business is now so far away from your daily activities.

Maybe you have reached a plateau, you know what should be done, how it should be done but you are not able to change your habits and the toxic culture inside your organisation. Your best crew members are leaving the ship as you were incapable of delivering the vision you sold them.

At that moment you start to become the bottleneck of your company. Too many decisions need to be made and are run by you. Processes are nonexistent or are stifling any creativity. You are lost in red tape. You have become a signature, a judge of budgets, the greedy, the tyrant, or the laid-back one depending on your reaction to stress.

There was a time when you were enjoying the smallest tasks to make the project move forward, loving every small interactions with your customers and polishing your products to make them proud. Those days are over.

Dreaming big has finally made you a passive passenger of your own boat. You don’t look at your environment with the same fresh and hungry eyes. You probably keep repeating the same mistakes or worst, you start to irritate people around you.

Your shoulders are heavy and only the responsibility you have towards your team (your family) is making you endure the situation, but that's slowly crushing you.

Imagine now, that all the decisions you have made, all the experiences you have lived, all the things you have learnt, all problems you have solved, have value for the ones that will try after you. How will you share your best advice with them?

Teach

If you were used to micromanaging, now it is time to delegate what you know. You need to be able to attract people who are ready to take on your responsibilities and to trust them to adapt the rules to better fit the needs of your organisation.

The experience you acquired should be a source of inspiration, not a justification of your authority. It is the time to empower people around you. And deep inside, you know it was what you loved doing.

By teaching new players to perform better than you, you have higher chances of having an impact on them while keeping a high level of motivation toward reaching common goals.

Enjoy teaching others to think for themselves and to act for the benefits of their stakeholders. Help them when they struggle when faced with unexpected situations. Find new solutions and collectively research the roots of problems or opportunities encountered along the way.

It will help you save time and you will get more freedom to come back to the basics, such as trying something new and beneficial for your organisation but with a more broader point of view. It is time to expand the reach of your actions and of their ambitions.

Encourage each member, student, participant, employee, to try, master and teach along the way.

3 months

Oh we forgot one thing. Another deadline for projects: 3 months. This is the time you need to realize that it is too late, one season at Incubateur HEC Paris has passed and you were not part of it!

Learn to Dare