Why done is better than perfect and how to effectively make decisions
Apple released the original iPhone in the United States.
Was it perfect? Absolutely not.
In Fred Vogelstein’s 2013 book, “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution,” he writes about the challenges Apple went through during the months leading up to the first iPhone launch.
Six months before the first iPhone was released into the eager hands of the buying public, all Apple had was a glitzy demo of a product that, in reality, barely existed.
There were still hundreds of problems — from tiny software bugs to seemingly insurmountable hardware hurdles — to be solved.
Faced with a hard shipping deadline of June 29, Apple’s employees scrambled as managers bickered and executives locked horns.
This had disaster spelled all over it.
But that didn’t stop the tech giant from getting the innovative product into the hands of the public.
After the launch, critics were quick to review the smartphone. Reviews were generally positive, although they longed for more.
USA Today’s Edward Baig reported “5 things (he’d) like to see” including:
- Faster “3G” or “third generation” data network
- Removable battery
- Greater storage (through storage slot)
- Extra features including GPS, IM, voice calling, Adobe Flash, and using your own music library for ringtones.
- Lower price
Newsweek’s Steven Levy wrote about “the difficulty of using a virtual keyboard that pops up on the screen when it’s time to enter text”.
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg concluded that “despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer.”
The first generation iPhone wasn’t perfect by any means, but Apple released it anyways.
Product teams can learn an important lesson from this and shift away from the idea of “one big launch”.
Waiting around and trying to perfect your product can be a huge mistake. Most likely, your competitors are working to release their product as soon as they can to take their share of the market.
In agile, the concept of continuous delivery can lead to faster time to market and efficiency in making changes, including implementing new features or bug fixes.
Perfect is subjective. The goal shouldn’t be perfection, but rather improvement over the previous iteration.
Aim to please a majority of your users, as your product will never be perfect to everyone.
Data is everything in the technology world.
In the same way that Apple follows an iterative approach to design, product teams should strive to get an MVP out the door and start gathering data from their users.
Learn from your product’s analytics to identify opportunities to improve.
Start surveying your users to understand their feelings around the product experience.
Ask questions like:
- Does the product serve the user’s needs?
- Do users enjoy using the product?
- Would users recommend the product to someone else?
- What would users change or improve about the product experience?
By getting this data as soon as possible, your team can extract insights to inform the next iteration and make a better version.
Rinse and repeat while you grow your customer base.
A big factor holding back businesses and entrepreneurs from launching their new product or service is their inability to effectively make decisions.
Designers explore different options during ideation which can sometimes lead to “analysis paralysis”.
Weighing options and tradeoffs can be necessary, but you can end up wasting an excess amount of time debating over the “perfect” solution.
When we focus too much on “what if”, we lose the most precious resource, which is our time. Time that could be spent executing on your product, releasing it into the market, and growing your business.
Having too many options to choose from can lead to the phenomenon known as the “paradox of choice”.
More choice leads to greater happiness, but only up to a certain point. After this point, more choice leads to a decline in happiness due to the added stress, anxiety, and pressure of choosing the best choice.
To mitigate the stress of choosing the “best” option, just choose an option and see where it takes you.
Of course, you should conduct some research and analysis into making the choice, but don’t overspend your time on it.
At the end of the day, making a bad decision is better than no decision.
No decision is also a decision, and it’s a really bad decision.
Don’t get caught up in the minor details and focus your energy on achieving a long-term vision.
Steve Jobs had a long-term vision for the iPhone, and knew that it wouldn’t be achieved within one release. His legacy lives on through Apple’s continuous innovation and improvement every year.
So treat everything like a prototype. Test it out, gather feedback, and slowly transform your vision into reality.
Thanks for reading!
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