Since my first steps as a product manager, there was one thing that characterised me — I wanted to see my work being used by users as fast as possible.
Over the years I became obsessed with customers, and being able to empathise with their problems. Think about it in the context of this post’s topic, you identify a pain and you can soothe it somewhere within days to a short number of weeks.
This only empowered me to push features out the door as soon as they were usable, Not perfect — usable.
Now I know it might sound really great in theory, but one might ask whether this really holds water, and the answer is YES.
How is it being done?
Take a look at the whole feature and place in front of you the value it will provide. Value can increase as the feature is more mature, but in almost every feature, you can deliver value to users in a short span of time.
Once these “value milestones” are identified, this turns into the team’s focus, not mentioning it’s a wonderful way to align and motivate the team.
Can you always deliver value in a short time ?
Well, practice is far from theory and as you go along, you’ll gain more experience and confidence in releasing early, and the common mantra among many product managers and entrepreneurs is that if you are not embarrassed of your first release, you released too late. This is not necessarily the first product version, it also applies very much to feature releases.
Show your work early, show it often, create a tight feedback loop.
Being obsessed with customers means you build a relationship with them. I try to talk to users often, even if it means I am just maintaining my relationship and frequent communication with them. Very often I’m sharing stuff we are working on, to get feedback, even if the particular user I talk to has not expressed any pain around it, yet we, as a company, identified it and decided to enhance the feature.
I would advice to move with a working product, and continuously get feedback.
Remember you’re part of the team
Moving fast should never come at the expense of dragging your team down a weariness path. Remember to achieve the goal as a team and not as an individual, otherwise, the only thing you’ll be doing fast is loosing your team.
Don’t try to perfect your product on your own.
By doing this, you’ll be wasting your time and opportunity.
Make sure you don’t fall into the “confirmation bias” where you interpret feedback in a way that aligns to yours.
In order to move fast and release quickly, product managers must be able to make quick decisions.
As Alphabet’s chairman, Eric Schmidt said:
"Even if it's the wrong decision, a quick decision is better than almost every case"
Another successful culture mantra comes from Facebook:
“What would you do if you weren't Afraid?” which is motivated by accepting that danger is real but fear is a choice.
Another saying which is self explanatory is
“Done is Better than Perfect”
A great decision making concept I've been using, initially developed in the US Air force, as in aviation you're being taught to make quick decisions, is the OODA loop, where OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
Your decisions are based on your interpretation of an evolving situation (how you kicked off a feature is not exactly how it looks right now, does it?)
The need for speed
Imperfection will not break your product. What will break it is how quickly you build stuff users need and can use to solve their problems. Seize the opportunity.
Speed is a competitive advantage, you have an opportunity to see your work in use, don't wait!