In his most recent book, Great By Choice, Jim Collins introduced the concept of the 20 Mile March. It’s based on the story of Amundsen and Scott; two expedition leaders racing to the South Pole. Amundsen’s team finished easily. Scott’s party died in the brutal arctic cold.
Both started with the same goal. But Amundsen made the commitment to get there slowly and steadily. To do that he set a target to travel 20 miles every single day. On cold and stormy days, it was a brutal challenge. On sunny and clear days it was an easy trip. On those stormy days they endured long hours and harsh conditions to hit their daily goal. On the clear days they resisted the urge to travel further. They used the extra time to rest and prepare for the days ahead.
According to Collins, the 20 Mile March is a core practice that great companies share. They set a target and set the regular milestones they must hit to get there. Then they do everything in their power to hit the target every single time.
Two years ago the Ascend Software Team faced a daunting challenge. In one year we needed to release Version 2 to our customers. To get there we established our own version of the 20 Mile March. We broke our work into 2 week periods called sprints. At the beginning of each sprint we determined the tasks we needed to finish by the end. Every task needed to be completed and tested. On the final night of each sprint we had to install the newest version of Ascend in Trek’s cafeteria and then on to our test dealers.
At first this was very difficult. There were many late nights. But with each success we gained more confidence and experience and became more efficient. Most importantly it worked. One year later we released Version 2. We’ve continued our march since then. Our goal now is to release a new major update to you every three months. We will continue our march two weeks at a time.
Our latest update, Version 2.3, will be available for our early release dealers this week and to everyone else in March. In case you missed our preview, click these links to view Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 or Part 4.