Don’t be scared of shipping

It’s a month before launch.

There’s a couple of sprints left before the day arrives, and you’ve marked it in your calendar with a gratuitous splattering of uppercase letters. The sprint is full of bug tickets, tweaks and yet another batch of urgent changes that you wish someone had told you about long before, and it’s getting a bit uncomfortable and sweaty.

Looking further down the backlog you can see the end in sight, but all of the extra features that would have made the product absolutely sing were overwhelmed by the can of worms that erupted ferociously from within another can of worms. You sigh. It won’t be perfect.

It’s a week before launch.

Massive setback. All of the colours are off-brand. The metrics don’t seem to be quite right for some reason. How is that even possible? You drop a deviously clever piece of work to make the feature faster in favour of more last-minute changes. You feel the slowness of the pinwheel load time on your chest every time you click. It’s nothing like the team originally hoped. You’re disappointed in yourself. The team look tired. The code is getting messier. You feel dirtier as changes are getting wedged in on top of previous changes. Your cathedral has been ransacked. The bazaar is bizarre.

It’s a day before launch.

You can’t sleep. You stir and twist over how much of a terrible choice that algorithm was. Surely it’ll never scale. What were you thinking? You remember there’s a little typo in one of the edge-case error messages, and you were going to fix it last week, but your colleague asked you a question mid-thought and you forgot to write it down. You feel stupid. How much did marketing splurge on the launch campaign? Surely everyone’s going to think it’s a joke when they start using it. Are you losing it altogether? Why did you even choose this career path?

It’s an hour before launch.

It’s clear: you don’t even want to be in the building right now. You light a cigarette out at the back of the car park and look at your shoes against the concrete. When you started this project you didn’t even own these shoes, and it’s been so long that you can’t remember where you bought them. You feel like an imposter. You’ve seen the press release. Lofty.

It’s a minute before launch.

Your team sit round your desk and you run the script that enables the functionality in the app. You can sense all of the clients seeing the launch pop-up. You watch the logs. The first clicks. The second. The tenth. The hundredth. Everything seems OK. You look around at each other and smile. Somehow, despite everything, you all got this thing out of the door.

“What’s next?”

“Well, we should probably make it better.”

Keep shipping.

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