Of the eleven stages in company-building, none is more pivotal than this one. Everything up to the Minimum Viable Product stage is about discovering and creating new value in a large market. Everything after MVP is about continuous optimization of the value you’ve created and building an unassailable competitive moat. MVP is the pivot point. Once you make it through this stage, you break open the gate of iconic enterprise opportunity.

The Story of Deputy

The story of Deputy presents the ideal archetype for how to progress through the MVP stage. This stage is composed of five steps:


You’ve completed the Four-Way Fit canvas. You have validated its claims (as best you can absent actual customer data). Now it’s time to build something. Concept feedback helps, but nothing teaches like actual product usage. So as you turn to the task of building your initial product, you begin by assembling the right resources, choosing the right priorities and adopting the right mindset. It is mission-critical work, with cash dwindling and the future on the line.

The Story of Canva

Canva, the global platform for design, is a company that made it through this stage with great effectiveness. Thirteen years later, in 2020, Canva…


If you have earned your way out of the Immerse and Ideate stage, you have designed a core product concept visionary customers find compelling. Now, as you enter the Minimum Viable Concept stage, it’s time to design a holistic business concept. In other words, you need to confirm that your product idea can be transformed into a viable business. To design a holistic business concept, it’s helpful to turn to the Four-Way Fit canvas. This is the “heads up” motion in action.

Imagine a big whiteboard, filled with Post-it notes. The four domains inside the canvas are broken down further…


I usually write about business stuff.

But every once in a while, I publish a commentary — as I did a year ago, when I published “From Every Corner: Rise, Leaders, Rise” on Medium.com. That article called for people with leadership skills to rise up and help their communities get through the pandemic. As was true then, we are at yet another moment when leaders must rise.

January 6 showed that democracy is not indestructible. It survived — barely. Now it’s on us to bring it back from the edge. To do this, we citizens must hear each other, return…


This first stage of company-building is overlooked by other innovation models. Advocates of the lean startup innovation model encourage founders to “get out of the office” at the beginning of a startup, so as to validate key assumptions. But this standard is woefully insufficient. You can’t gain the insights necessary to achieve a true value breakthrough without deep immersion inside your customer’s world. If your objective is to build an iconic global enterprise, the “Immerse and Ideate” stage is the vital first step.

In her Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling created a story filled with captivating acts of good…


Over the course of the past eleven chapters, the construct of the Four-Way Fit model has emerged brick by brick. Part 1 described its framework. Part 2 described its method. By this point, it’s my expectation you possess a solid understanding of the central concepts that make up this new innovation model. Here in Part 3, we will explore how the Four-Way Fit model is uniquely expressed at each stage of the journey of company-building.


If drawing up the game plan on the side of the field is the “heads up” motion, the “heads down” motion is the game itself. In Phase II, the game becomes three-dimensional chess. To grow requires a mix of big systemic change, incremental continuous improvement and test execution. These occur at the intersection of people, workflows, technology and money flows.

Now your enterprise has rising heft and momentum. Its purpose cascades down into operating system purposes, which cascades down into domain purposes. If the enterprise is organized based on the principles of domain-driven design, then each domain within each operating…


As you exit Phase I and enter Phase II, consequential change awaits. To get out ahead of that change, you must step back and take stock. That’s the “heads up” motion.

How different the world now looks! With value breakthrough in hand, customers gather at your doorstep. As the customer count rises, investors invest. New resources follow, prompting a division of labor. Once a single-cell organism, your company now divides and subdivides into an ever more complex system. The product itself rises in complexity, as new features address more use case scenarios and segments. Technical infrastructure begins to matter; now…


The “heads down” motion in Phase I is action-packed. It’s where the rubber hits the road. Now that you have sorted out your reason for being, you shift to the doing. You face many unknowns; you can claim few settled assumptions. And so you must test, test and test again — in a constant (and desperate) search for truth. Testing takes more time than just winging it. But it saves time in the long run. It is better to crawl, then walk, then run than it is to run and crawl back.

Said another way, your job is to fail…


If you are a startup CEO in search of a value breakthrough, you know the challenge: find one before the money runs out. It’s a Catch 22. To achieve a true breakthrough requires you to understand gaping problems and screaming needs at a deeper level than any other actor in the space. And your solution to these problems and needs must radically improve upon anything that currently exists. How is that possible with so few resources?

The only way to accomplish this feat is to learn more than all others about your chosen market and top priority segment, as cheaply…

Tom Mohr

Founder and CEO, CEO Quest

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