Write like you build products
In product management, and especially in startups, the idea of shipping the minimum viable product is quite popular. It is the process of building a product that satisfies the minimum needs of the user to help get their job done, and ship it to them, and then iterate and improve by introducing new features that will satisfy a growing number of users and gets better and better over time.
For example, if you are building a car, the minimum viable product could be a roller skateboard. The roller skateboard is extremely easy to build (compared to the car) and does the job of getting the user from point A to point B. Then, you can slowly transform it into a bicycle and then a horse-drawn carriage and eventually a functional car, and maybe later a luxury sports car. This is probably how we ended up building the car in the first place.
The minimum viable product approach urges you to ship a simple product early with bare bones features than wait till you add a lot of fancy features and perfect the product.
The emphasis is on shipping and not on perfecting the product. Because chasing perfection as a prerequisite to shipping is a rabbit hole that you mustn’t fall into. Chasing perfection while constantly shipping with improvements, on the other hand, is what the minimum viable approach is all about.
While I use this approach all the time at work in building products, it is equally meaningful for creating any kind of art. I use this approach for everything from creating presentations to writing blog posts to creating standup comedy acts.
A lot of people I know hesitate to share what they write or fail to write in the first place because they are afraid of their work not being good enough, and the effort it takes to get that perfect editorial or a book out.
If humans had waited to perfect the car and refused to ship the bicycle and the horse-drawn carriage, we may never have shipped the car at all.
The minimum viable product approach is widely adopted in the product development community. It is about time we start adopting it in other aspects of our lives as well, especially in creating and shipping art.
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