It just has to be ‘good enough’…

This is one of the biggest lessons I learned in (product) development…


I am what people might call a “wannabe perfectionist”. “Wannabe” because I don’t believe anyone is a perfectionist (no one can do everything perfectly, but at time strive for perfection).

Striving for Perfection

In 2004, I was working for a large IT services company in Chennai. As a part of my skill development, the company put me through .Net training for two weeks. I really enjoyed the training and I loved .Net (I’ve always been partial to Microsoft technologies). However, the training was unproductive at the end (only for me), because I couldn’t complete the project that we were assigned.

The instructor had given us a project and a high-level architecture of the software we were supposed to build. But I knew there was a better architecture possible that would be the code more modular and the program much more robust and maintainable (even though it would never see outside of a floppy disk). I struggled with with and eventually never got to finish my project.

The mockup of my incomplete first book… (designed by me)

That project wasn’t the only one that I did not complete. Over the years, there have been many things that I have started but failed to complete. And only because, I wanted it to be perfect when it was done. The biggest disappointment was the draft of my supposedly first book, The Esoteric Leadership, which I started writing to share my views on what leadership should really be.

My struggle to perfect things the first time cost me dearly in shape of incomplete code, books, tasks, etc. And that is bad.


The need for perfection for a wannabe perfectionist

Any person whose like me will tell you that being a (wannabe) perfectionist is a matter of habit. We just can’t stop ourselves. We want all the kinks, bugs, cuts, dents, chips, spelling mistakes to vanish before the first version is out. Of course, we are all wannabes because, despite our best efforts, we still manage to miss a few.

copyright: Bev Webb, source: Google image search

But this need for high quality comes from within. I haven’t really analyzed myself to determine why I want such high quality. I expect it from myself and many times for others, but I have no clue of the psychological driver behind it. I (and other wannabes) want, expect and even demand highest qualities, but most times, we don’t know why.


Good Enough is Fine…

And because we want the highest qualities in our works and that of others, we detest sub-standard shit. We feel depressed and highly disappointed when we product something at that level.

But there’s something I have learned in the past 18 months since joining Spark10 (www.spark10.com). We are always running against the clock here at Spark10. We have to get the program up and running as soon as the previous cohort is finalized. And delay costs the company a lot of money in idle operational expenses.

And so, my business partner, Atal gave me this piece of advice… “It just has to be be good enough to take to the market!” Of course, I knew this (intellectually) because at times I would say the same thing to others (founders I consulted for).

Good enough is fine! It doesn’t have to be perfect and once you get it out, you can always improve; that’s what versioning means, doesn’t it?

That’s when I understood things intuitively — Imperfect doesn’t mean bad quality and shouldn’t do so. It just means incomplete, from the perspective of the end result envisioned.

However, what you have “completed” should be of the highest quality. So, of the 5 of the 10 features developed and released, the five have to be top-grade in their own bubble. The rest can be developed and improved over time.

Bottomline:

If you are a startup, then remember this, if you wait, like I did, for everything to be perfect before you release your work, chances are you will never release it because in all likelihood it would never get made. There’s a reason why people say, “Nobody’s perfect!”, and that’s because no one really is and if perfection is not possible, than “good enough”, for the moment, will do just fine…

Just go ahead and develop a “good enough” (incomplete, but of high quality) version of your product and release the beta to your customers for feedback and improvement. Don’t let your awesome idea just sit on your desktop as a mockup image!


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