Don’t Let the Big Get in the Way of the Small



Sometimes the big gets in the way of the small.

While it’s great to package up value into a bigger set, sometimes this blocks flowing smaller value as you go.

For example, maybe you have a big idea that blocks your little ideas.

Or maybe you have a product that packages up a lot of value, but you can’t ship it until it’s all done.

In either case, it blocks the flow of value.

The Big in the Way of the Small

Here’s a simple visual that shows all the work in progress that piles up while waiting until it’s all done and ready to go as a monolith:


In the above, imagine that all the little chunks of value are being treated collectively as one big chunk of value – and it’s not done until it’s all done.

The Small Flows the Value

Here’s a visual that shows the small flowing value:


Each little chunk of value is completed and made available.

From a metaphor standpoint, this might be like your waiter bringing out food as items are ready instead of waiting until all of it is ready, and then bringing everything out all at once.

Find a Way to Flow Value

Early in my book-building career, my manager put a lot of pressure on me to find a way to flow value during the project, not wait until the end.

He didn’t like the fact that while the team worked on a big book, there was nothing available along the way.

We found a way to make our smaller content nuggets available along the way in the form of How Tos, Checklists, Guidelines … etc.,  as part of a community knowledge base before our final release as a full big book.

What I’ve found is that flowing value along the way helps test your results and get real customer feedback earlier to help shape a better final product.

Additionally, internally it helps show stakeholders that you’re producing results and making impact.

This is often a key to continued funding and support, as well as a way to keep moment, and to learn around smaller, more modular units.

The Secret of Chunking Up Bigger Things is User Stories

The secret to chunking things down is user stories, or persona-based scenarios with goals.

A user story is simply a one-sentence story of the challenge:

“As a life-long learner, I want to be able to buy and get a book instantly, so I can learn about my area of interest right now, anywhere, anytime.”

Those little stories can actually end up as game changing ideas.

Then the trick is find the best medium or packaging for your more modular units.  It could be a brochure, it could be a demo, it could be an API, it could be a one-box cartoon, it could be a anything that helps your users hack at their challenges you are helping them solve.

The ultimate question to ask yourself is, how can you find a way to flow more value as you go for better momentum and better results?

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