Progress Over Perfection – What are you waiting for?
We all have that one person on the team who seems to know it all. And, often times, he actually does! But, the challenge is that Mr. Know-It-All tends to do something that isn’t very smart. He finds a way (and then yet another way) to do something better. He can often be what I call “actively deciding” which is a current state of open-ended decision-making, versus the past tense, decided. Particularly in today’s ever-evolving world, nothing is ever done. Everything we complete is only complete for the moment. It can take months to launch a new product whether a newly engineered light bulb or a new type of mortgage loan. So, from the time the product was conceived to the time it is ready to be released, of course we have learned a lot along the way and can find improvements in the original concept. The choice should not be to halt the progress, but to let it run its full cycle and then start a new decision cycle versus continuously interrupting the one in process. For some, this will simply make no sense. “How can you know there is a better solution and release a less optimized one?” Well, for these people who struggle, here is a 1-2-3 to consider:
- Remember, it’s not what you’re selling, it’s who you’re selling to. Your market hasn’t even caught up to your original thought. They haven’t sat in the meetings, heard the debates, priced out the other options, and weighed the benefits. They simply woke up one day to an email that touted “New XYZ Product!” Also, we largely work with professional services. Many of our clients don’t offer products that are sold to the same buyer even as often as light bulbs. So, whatever you release today is bound to be significantly better than the version they had before.
- No one cares as much as you. Now, don’t get me wrong, clients’ expectations are high, and they are more educated to their options than ever before. But, even still, on the one product that you have spent an inordinate amount of time developing, no one in your sphere probably knows or cares about it as much as you do. It is important to keep in mind that you’re not done with a product or service offering, there is V.2 and beyond waiting to be discovered. Continue your thoughts down the next version and even keep them to yourself for a bit. One doesn’t want to demotivate the team or deflate their enthusiasm. Let them feel accomplished and keep the level of enthusiasm for teamwork and accomplishment.
- Progress over perfection. This is a philosophy that needs to be mentioned and adopted by the development team from the beginning. Now, this doesn’t mean settle for a mediocre product, but there can be processes in place to actually ensure that Mr. Know-It-All doesn’t continuously kill the opportunity for growth. For instance, Thomas Edison and his team of researchers tested more than 3,000 designs for bulbs between 1878 and 1880. In November 1879, Edison filed a patent for an electric lamp with a carbon filament. The patent listed several materials that might be used for the filament, including cotton, linen and wood. Edison tested more than 6,000 plants to determine which material would burn the longest. Apparently, bamboo won. Now, this isn’t to suggest that Mr. Edison wasn’t correct in his approach, but 6,000? Really? Were we still burning ourselves with wax while waiting the time it took to test 6,000 plants? A good suggestion would be to have a firmly documented development process in place, as most companies do. But at some point of the process make a rule that once it is signed off of that step, there is no turning back. You may even start version 2 before V.1 is launched, but for goodness sake, get it done! Let us marketers worry about the messaging.
We all know that once we do something so little as remodel a hall bathroom, we would do it differently next time. The good news about product development is that, most likely, there are many more next times to come! Keeping people motivated is the name of the game, let them make progress.
Thank you for your time,