Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Build half a product, not a half-assed product" - Which half is which?

This quote is from the great book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

I ran across that quote again while reading this post by Jeremy Watt.  It goes into how less can be more.  When developing a product (any product, in Watt's case it was his textbook), you want to make sure that what you do deliver is great, even if it means leaving a lot of stuff out.

This is something that I think every business (both big and small) run into on any significant endeavor.  You can never fit everything you want to into a product.  You have to be willing to cut and, at least at first, deliver what you think is truly essential.  In many cases, after a product goes out the door, the things that you were planning to include in "phase 2" may turn out to not be that important.  They may even detract from the core features of your product.

At Contextant, we're working on a product that we hope to release soon.  As we brainstorm, there a lot of features that we think will be cool.  But, we've decided to wait and see what the market tells us before putting much effort into them.

This lesson is true not just when determining what features should make it into a shipping product, but in many other items that businesses do, such as planning!  Here is an excerpt from a chapter in Rework called "Planning is Guessing":

Unless you're a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands: market conditions, competitors, customers, the economy, etc. Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can’t actually control. 
Why don't we just call plans what they really are: guesses. Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses, andy our strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about them as much. They just aren’t worth the stress.

That's about exactly right.

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