Good is Great (When Learning Is the Goal)

We all want to do great work. Inspiring, life-altering work. But the way we frame “great work” is different to each of us.

My newest venture, ChatterJet, is a shift in the way I have approached business in the past. By utilizing a new framework, we are applying many of the concepts from Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup. Perhaps most exciting is our willingness to ship early, continuously deploy new features, constantly collect feedback, and evolve our product based on the hard data and soft feedback from our users.

To me, this is shaky ground. I’m a reformed perfectionist. In the past, I only bet on sure things – things that I could extensively research and plan, labor over, refine, revise, perfect, and absolutely love. The problem is that every goal is a moving target.¬†The time it takes to build out a full-featured version of any product often means that the game will have shifted by the time you’re ready to launch. And then you’re back at square one.

Realizing this, our team agreed that our product does no good living secretly behind closed doors in the hands of our developers for months (or weeks or days). ChatterJet solves no real world problem for the people who need it the most – small business owners – if it sits in a secure development environment.

So we have committed to launching it far earlier than we feel comfortable with, putting it in the hands of the customers who want and need the service. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire!“, we are focusing more on “Ready, Fire… Refine!” approach. This is not to say we are content with an unfinished product. Instead, consider this:

A minimum viable product (MVP) that is 30% complete is infinitely more valuable to your customers than one that is 95% complete but has not yet launched.

Critics say that “good is the enemy of great”, but I disagree. Good is only the enemy when settling is the end goal. But if continuous improvement and validated learning is a part of the process, good will help you get to great faster while providing value to the marketplace immediately.

What’s your take?