Compounding Change.

The power of incremental improvement

Over the last 12 months I've been the 'horizontal lead' for Nearmap's MapBrowser application. The additional responsibilities have required a step change in how I think about product design and development. I've had to move away from being the person that requests change, to the one who drives it. It's been a steep learning curve but a very rewarding one.

A key realisation for me has been the power of incremental improvement. Big change, although sometimes necessary, often involves more risk. Both in terms of implementation and adoption. The larger the change, the greater the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). This can create inertia within teams, leading to a slower development cycle.

A way to combat this is to ship early and often. Smaller iterations allow teams to focus on specific goals and mitigate risk better, in turn, increasing confidence and velocity. This can be further improved with the introduction of feedback loops. Changes that result in undesirable outcomes can be tweaked or rolled back quickly. Desirable ones can be repeated and built upon.

The last and most important benefit is momentum. The more data points (releases) a team has, the more opportunities they have to learn. When applied correctly, these learnings lead to successful outcomes occurring more often. Small but consistent improvements compound over time, creating substantial and sustained results.

This was summed up wonderfully by Julie Zhuo in a recent tweet:

"Just think: 1% better per week is 67% better in a year. Can’t help but be optimistic about the future when you think about it that way."


Hi, I'm Aaron. Director of Design at Nearmap. I like to create experiences that are simple, intuitive and empowering.

Get In TouchFollow