Buried in all the articles about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a mention about a sign on her wall at Facebook that reads “Done is better than perfect” or some such caught my eye. In the software universe this is the hacker creed in a nutshell, and obviously for Facebook and Facebook wannabees around the globe this mantra works.
But does it work for physical products, where changes are not as easy as just releasing V22.214.171.124 of the software? For a physical product, any changes post design release must be covered by Engineering Change Notices, or ECNs. ECNs in turn can lead to scrapping of inventory, mandate changes to processes and tests, cause production delays due to lead time of any newly designed in parts and can trigger the need for additional validation testing or even regulatory approvals. A heck of lot more difficult than just releasing a software patch.
As such, we have often been a little loathe to adopt such hackers creeds fo productization. But.. sometimes Done is better than Perfect, even for productization. Done but slightly imperfect products can get into beta customers’ hands, can garner marketing feedback, can start to build brands. Can start to build revenues. Of course too imperfect and the customer complaint hot line starts ringing, returns roll in, and the ECNs stack up on the production manager’s desk. So moderation is required, much more so than in the software industry. But we can also pick our battles: firmware, for example, can be revved much like software in some cases. Steel-safe tooling changes are another great example. And testing prototypes till the cows come home, while satisfying (we do love to break things), can lead to paralysis.
Like much in productization (and in life),my favorite word in the whole world, Lagom, the Swedish Goldilocks word–not too much, not too little, just right-applies. We can accept almost done and close to perfect sometimes, even for productization. Stamp it Done and move on.
PS–I blogged on the same topic today, how Done is better than Perfect can apply to creative writing, my side gig.