THE FOUR STAGES OF THE MISSION The four stages of launching a vessel into space correspond to the stages in launching a product, company, or a vision in such a way that it will attain Escape Velocity.
Stage One: The Launch
How you launch your initiative is the most important stage. Every mission has to allow for some mid-course corrections. But you have to generally be on the right trajectory. There can be no radical turns. Some will tell you that having all the answers doesn’t matter — just do something and figure out the details later. That might work if you’re painting a fence or engaging in any other endeavor that does not require a great deal of capital investment. In a major launch, however, margins are very thin. According to John Glenn, after traveling over 240,000 miles, Apollo 11 settled on the lunar surface with about five seconds of thruster fuel remaining. They had one shot, and the corrections required to find a suitable landing spot left them five seconds from disaster. Very few product launches are so capitalized that owners/entrepreneurs can make major course corrections without running out of fuel. Aim carefully.
Stage Two: The Big Burn
It is hard to anticipate every eventuality, but once you’re fully supplied and launched in the right directions, it is time to go to full force to where the majority of your fuel is spent. That simply means investing a tremendous amount of energy and effort. This is where planning pays off, because this stage requires hard work, long hours, high investment, and little profit-taking. Some launches never reach Escape Velocity because the originators simply get tired of working so hard or get anxious to start taking profits. Or they get tired of operating so lean and begin spending before they can afford it. They consume the resources that would be needed for that second burn to propel them to Escape Velocity.
Stage Three: Orbital Velocity
Orbital Velocity is the stage at which you experience that weightless, quiet, and smooth ride. What a feeling! Your project is off the ground, and you no longer have to pour everything you have into propelling beyond the grasp of Gravity. Now you can actually begin to turn a profit. But this is also where many launches fail to become what they could be. The owners of the idea miscalculated before the launch. They didn’t realize how much fuel it would require, and they launched under-capitalized. Consequently, they ran out of gas before the second burn. Eventually, they begin to slow down and fall back to earth. In the context of Relationship Momentum, many people fail in this stage as they forget the people (clients, Ambassadors, financiers) who helped them get to cruising altitude in the first place. It is also normal to see the Value Proposition begin to decline; this is why so many politicians lose their bid for reelection. If the Value Proposition suffers, the Brand is diminished and the Ambassadors lose their fervor.
Stage Four: The Great Escape
Reaching orbital Velocity, the crew members are able to settle into a parked orbit. But the true magnificence of the journey is venturing beyond the earth’s Gravity. That, of course, requires another substantial capital investment (human and/ or monetary) to take them to the next level. Regardless of their original goal, many owners will reach parked-orbit Velocity, become complacent, and settle for an abbreviated objective. The companies, non-profits and products of legend (IBM, Microsoft, United Way, Salvation Army, The Hula Hoop, TiVo) are the ones that made the escape. Escape Velocity (The absence of Drag or Resistence) is Relationship Momentum in its purest form and is what separates the legendary from the forgotten. The question is, will you be complacent or will you power back up your engines and crack the sky!
What stage are you in?
Are you feeling the effects of the launch?