When Christopher Columbus set out to discover a route west to India, he had no way of knowing that his explorations would uncover an even greater prize: The New World, the discovery of which altered the course of history and exploration for hundreds of years to come.

It would not be the last time that history would be affected by a chance discovery. Penicillin, x-rays and the invention of the microwave were all stumbled upon by accident during research being conducted in other areas.


Photo of an Apple II computer by Richard Rutter

The tech industry has had more than its fair share of disrupting platforms and technologies that came about as a result of a pivot on a company’s original intentions and goals. Youtube was initially intended to be a dating website (the domain name was registered on Valentine’s Day).

Instagram started as Burbn, a check-in app similar to Foursquare until the founders realized that the features most popular with the app’s users were the photo-sharing capabilities.

Steve Jobs’ original intention with the Apple I was to sell it through retail stores in kit form, to be assembled by computer hobbyists. At the brilliant suggestion of Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop chain (Apple’s first customer), Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak instead delivered the Apple I fully assembled, to be ready for customers off the shelf.

Most importantly, it was an approach that would influence the subsequent design of the Apple II, the introduction of which heralded a revolution in personal computing.


roadmap drawing photo by Paul Downey

The use of IT tools and modern project management approaches such as Agile development makes the discovery and exploration processes easier than ever. When companies can explore a solution-space cheaply and quickly, the higher the chances of discovering new business-defining solution or opportunities.

After all, while the explorers of old created maps by plotting the course of rivers, mountains and forests, the tech industry has its modern-day equivalent in the form of product roadmaps, which will always be defined by the needs of users. Which is one of the reasons the concept of “Release early, release often” has long been a popular software development philosophy used to significant effect in the development of Linux and other open source software.

The quicker a solution or product can be put in front of users; the faster invaluable feedback can be obtained for the next iteration. It is this very feedback that allows a company to discover potentially groundbreaking opportunities and set a course to exploit it.

– Matt Mullenweg, Creator of WordPress

This is a picture of Matt Mullenweg who is the founder of WordPress

As revolutionary as the iPhone was when it was initially released in 2007, even Steve Jobs at first missed the massive demand from consumers for native iPhone apps. Developers were initially limited to creating web-applications on the Safari browser, until the release of the AppStore in 2008, which at the time was limited to just 500 apps.

By 2017 the App Store had recorded over 130 billion downloads of apps. Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, put it best when he said “Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there.”


team discussing app ideas for their business
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

While the ability to explore a space increases the chance of discovering new solutions, just as important is the willingness to pivot to a new direction, to recognize the opportunity at hand and change a company’s focus, sometimes drastically.

In the days of Columbus, expeditions of exploration were dangerous enterprises, only for those brave souls willing to take significant risks in search of enormous rewards. Today, companies face an inversion of that choice: the pursuit of great opportunities demands that companies be willing to explore their solution-spaces and industries for opportunities and be prepared to adapt and pivot when the opportunity presents itself.


Many giants of technology over the past four decades have been built thanks to companies’ ability and willingness to both explore and pivot.
A deliberately iterative approach to developing a solution, service or product, when combined with IT tools and project management processes tailored to iterative development, makes the exploration of a solution-space, and the pivot towards a new direction, cheaper, quicker and easier than at any time.

That is why we believe the Design and Discovery phase is so crucial for the development of your project.

If you are at that stage or whenever you need help on development, please contact us. We love to share our tech and entrepreneurial experience, helping businesses to find traction and the best options to drive substantial growth for your ideas, projects and organizations of all sizes.