How to eat an Elephant?

One slice at a time. The oldest adage in Consulting is perhaps one of the most valuable insights for startups.

People think that scale is all good. That the bigger you get, the better you are. This is not necessarily true. I've seen many companies get lost when they try to tackle too big of a problem all in one go [1]. Governments projects are always under budgeted (time and cost) because they are too ambitious and improperly planned [2]. 

Complex problems have many dangers.

At the top is Demotivation, because you get stuck in it for a long time and you never get the satisfaction of completion. This can be super bad for the morale of your colleagues. This is close to the book writing problem. When you start you are very excited, but a few thousand words are not enough. After many months, it can be tiresome to always go back and see the same unfinished idea.

It is followed by Inefficiency, because the more people and resources required to solve a problem, the more time you will spend in coordination and synchronization, and so the more cost and delays it is prone to have. Because of this, enterprise solutions frequently have marginally better features at a disproportionately bigger cost.

On top of Demotivation and Inefficiency, there's Obsolescence, because when you end it, the initial conditions may have changed. This is also why when most big software gets released, it already looks old.

Finally Dependency is super bad because by pursuing a big project you become too invested in that particular solution for a problem. It can very easily become too late to go back, and yet still too far away to complete. This "all or nothing" can be very costly.

So take your time. Eat the Elephant piece by piece, be it a software product, a new business line, or a brand restart

You'll be more motivated, more efficient and will have a fresher result to show.


  1. Blackberry and Nokia got lost on the transition to smartphones. The whole re-engineering of their software and problem was too complex and big of a project for their existing structure at the time. Most importantly it also probably conflicted with older objectives and values.
  2. Government big projects have budget overruns of 50%, 100%, 500%.. Warning, politicized source