Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur
069 Velocity as a leadership principle

069 Velocity as a leadership principle


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Today’s episode is brought to you by Figma. Two important tools of the Rebel Intrapreneur are the business model canvas and the value proposition canvas. Figma has templates for both. I used the value proposition canvas template to design the listener profile and value map for this show. You can do it, too. Try Figma for free, and get your innovation projects off the ground fast.

I had a fundamental misunderstanding of the concepts of product velocity. Being lazy, I just accepted that product velocity is about speed. In fact, when I google product velocity, I find numerous definitions and opinions that all say some version of, “how quickly new products or features can be released.” 

OK. Go faster. Work harder. I never thought to question this. 

Until this past week.

Osama Bedier, president of GoDaddy Commerce, gave a talk at the Dragonboat Accelerate 2023 virtual conference that woke me up to the difference between velocity and speed, exposing my fundamental misunderstanding of speed. 

Bedier relates that we’ve all worked on products (or in organizations) that felt like we were working fast, but seemed to be going nowhere. Just spinning our wheels. We might have thought we were working hard and going fast but often thought, “Where are we going with this?”  A tough question to handle, especially for high performing product teams. 

High performers want to achieve great things. Make a difference. Have an impact. And we cannot do those things if our efforts are not making progress towards a specific, important direction. 

Bedier reminded me that there is a big difference between speed and velocity.


What is product velocity?

He defined each. Simply.

Speed = Going Fast.

Velocity = Speed + Direction. 

The purpose of speed is to go fast. 

The purpose of velocity is to go fast in a specific direction

That specific direction could be towards a: 

  1. Goal

  2. Mission

  3. Deadline

  4. Requirement

  5. Regulatory change

  6. Any other important “why”

Take a look at that list. When product teams understand the direction, speed is easy.

Velocity as leadership principle

Direction clarifies. 

Direction minimizes distractions. 

Direction focuses energy on something specific. 

Without direction, we could speed up beyond our wildest imagination and still not accomplish any important goal, mission, deadline, requirement, regulatory change, or any other important “why.” 

In this context, speed is irrelevant. Or downright counter productive. 

Imagine assembling a team of high performers, telling them to go faster, and NOT telling them where to go.

Leadership principle: Pursue velocity, not speed.


More about Bill:

Bill Cushard on Linkedin

Bill Cushard on X

Rebel Intrapreneur podcast website

Bill’s book: The Art of Agile Marketing: A Practical Roadmap for Implementing Kanban and Scrum in Jira and Confluence 

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Bill Cushard on Rebel Intrapreneur on Product velocity

Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur is a podcast about a new category of high performing employee. Rebel intrapreneurs further the mission of an organization while simultaneous challenging the system from within. Founders and entrepreneurs are thirsty to find people who believe in their mission as much as they do, and pursue that mission relentlessly. Rebel Intrapreneur is hosted by Bill Cushard, who has reported directly to founder/CEOs four times in his career, which makes him an ideal guide on your intrapreneurial journey.