A 10-year overnight success

I love a good 10-year overnight success story.

In a recent TEI call, a member shared one. Here’s the timeline:

The year 2013: Matthew Skelton creates language for an idea, calls it DevOps Topologies.

Around 2016: Matthew publishes the idea to this website: https://web.archive.org/web/20160305153422/http://web.devopstopologies.com/

2019: Idea becomes this book: https://smile.amazon.com/Team-Topologies-Organizing-Business-Technology/dp/1942788819

March, 2021: TEI member says “I’m seeing team topologies everywhere!”

I think a lot of 10 year overnight successes look a lot like that.

Consider the mushroom. There’s a lengthy phase where the mushroom spores grow into a mycelial network. Important stuff is happening, but it’s mostly underground; invisible.

Then one day the fruiting body of the mushroom appears, seemingly out of nowhere.

The rapid, nearly explosive growth of the fruiting body is only possible because the mycelial network was quietly, steadily, relentlessly doing it work, setting the stage for what’s next.

Some years ago, I decided that my thinking and the publishing I do would be about both the mycelial phase and the visible mushroom phase. Focusing on just the visible mushroom and neglecting the necessary precursor felt like a bait-and-switch.


PS: The Internet Archive Wayback machine is so great for letting you see the prior mycelial phase of businesses whose mushroom phase you are currently admiring. It reminds you that your heroes are just like you. They merely loved an idea or an audience enough to spend a decade growing into the leader that idea/audience needed.