The electric light didn't come from the continuous improvement of candles

Oren Harari

Most books on management and operation agree on the best way to manage product and processes: it’s called “continuous improvement” and based on a cyclic (a circle) diagram. I totally disagree with this approach for startups. I will share my reasons and books and articles to read instead.

Bad choice

Bad choice Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Standard and non-statup like Continuous improvement

Standard and non-startup like Continuous improvement


A continuous improvement diagram involves at least the following five steps.

  1. Define the goals of this interaction
  2. Create a plan to do it (and get a budget based on assumptions)
  3. Do it (and discover how much of the planning was wrong.)
  4. Check the results (prayer and some executive marketing can help here)
  5. Go back to step 1

Note: You might have more steps on your favourite book, don’t be fooled, it’s only to differentiate that book against the other 2 million stating roughly the same thing. 

It doesn’t work for startups


While this is great if you need to improve progressively, this is rarely never the way to go for a startup. Incremental progress is too slow, both from a product point of view and for your internal processes.

Disruptive vs Incremental progress

Disruptive vs. Incremental progress

A series of disruptive increment is what you need: 100%-1000% increments. The results provided by continuous increments ( 5-10%) are valuable only for well-defined products or established processes, nothing a startup has.

Don’t create a better product, create a revolutionary product

Create a product that solves my problem 100 times faster, and customers might change from their current product to yours. Anything less will not be worth the time and effort of the switch.

Plan to change how you do business as fast as your growth (very fast I hope)

Focus on improving a lot in one go, this is how you plan your growth, this is how you should think about your processes too.

Books and articles recommendations

Startup founders recommended books

How to think outside of the box


For the first time, I’m using my drawings. Let me know if they are understandable.

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