Share Early

I studied architecture in graduate school and can still remember this image. I don’t remember which professor first introduced it, though that class that focused on the business aspects of running an architecture practice surely presented it.

The image captures the increasing cost of change over time as the building project progresses from design to development and finally to construction.

As a corrollary, the opportunity for influence as a designer diminishes as the project progresses. No foundational design decisions can be made when the foundation is already set.

Therefore, for architecture in particular, it’s important to plan early and to avoid costly changes later.

The cost of change increases dramatically as the building project moves through the construction phase, while the architect’s opportunity for influence decreases.

We may think that logic doesn’t apply to software because its artifacts do not share the same physical constraints. Yet anyone who has worked on a large software project knows that is not completely true. Complex software requires significant time and expertise to change, particularly when spread across multiple people.

This is true not just of the technical aspects of the company; the marketing, strategy and company vision all solidify over time, and what was once a large cone of possibilities narrows as the product emerges.

Therefore, for software companies too, it‘s important to plan early and to avoid costly changes later.

But unlike architecture projects, software startups often leave out the most important party during the design phase, the client — their customers who will ultimately shape the company’s success.

The cost of responding to customer needs increases dramatically as the software project moves into the product phase, while the customers’ opportunities for influence decrease.

So share your concept early.

It’s the best way to utilize your potential customers vast knowledge and needs, and it’s them you ultimately want to serve.