Why escape velocity matters in your work

written by  Ryan Seamons

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Sometimes we get stuck. This can happen with new personal habits, ramping up on a new team, or when building a new product.

In physics, Escape Velocity is the speed something needs to be traveling to break free of a planet.


In work, escape velocity is the velocity something must have to sustain on its own. The speed and direction required to escape the former state. This concept applies across many aspects of work:

  • Venture Capital: A startup needs investment to get enough speed to make traction in the marketplace

  • New Team Formation: A team needs enough of the right skills and capacity to be proactive in their work vs being buried in responsive firefighting

  • Onboarding: A new employees need knowledge and support before the start making a meaningful difference in their work

  • Customer Acquisition: Potential customers have to see enough value in a new offering to make a purchase and switch from an old product

  • Ideas: Without initial support from a strong sponsor, it’s difficult to get ideas going in a large organization

The momentum of the past is powerful. This is why starting new things is hard. And that’s exactly why you need speed to escape.

Getting enough speed for escape velocity in your work requires focused, upfront investment of time, money, or energy. (tweet this)

If you don’t get enough speed in the right direction, you will just fall back into the status quo.

This is one reason you should do things that don’t scale at first. Putting extra initial effort into something can accelerate that idea enough to get escape velocity. After you “escape” is when scaling matters.

It’s also why the focus described in Essentialism (the concept and book by Greg McKeown) can be fuel for helping your work pull away.


When you’re just starting out, do anything you can to put extra effort into getting enough focus and speed to get things moving. (tweet this)

What have you been learning about? I ask this of my kids every dinner and love to hear from other avid learners.


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About the Author

Ryan Seamons
writes about more human approaches to modern management.

Join Patterns for weekly ideas about making work better.

Also check out Manager School to become a better manager.