'Ship Fast and Iterate' Doesn't Mean Start With a Poor Product
Has your manager or client ever asked you to finish a work and ship it fast? Even before you have properly understood what is the scope of the task or what are all the sub-tasks involved?
Sure, we all believe in the mantra - "ship fast and iterate." It doesn’t matter if you are a developer or a designer or a marketer, the world just seems to be in a hurry of getting things live. But wait a minute and think what you are doing.
Are you shipping a quality product? Or just shipping something half baked in the name of shipping fast?
Shipping fast matters, but more important than shipping things fast is shipping quality products.
Your product may vary depending on your responsibilities. If you are a marketer, your product can be a landing page or an email template for your next campaign. If you are a designer, your product can be the new web page that you are working on or a new icon you are creating. Whatever your product is, you are the owner and it is your responsibility to maintain its quality. Never compromise on it in the name of "shipping fast."
But this approach has a side effect. Whenever I have told this to people, they start using this as an excuse and take forever to ship. This is the other extreme of this story. Delivering quality products should not be your excuse to move slowly. Push yourself and your teammates to move fast and go the extra mile to meet the deadline. Get the job done on time.
If you lower the bar once, it becomes very difficult to raise it again. There are hundreds of tasks fighting for your attention and there is a good probability that you are not going to come back to improve what you’ve shipped. But of course there are exceptions and you’ve to make the call what works in your circumstance.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
I felt I cannot be the first one to feel this pain. There must be many before me who must have felt this way. So I searched and came across this paragraph in Sam Altman’s blog post about super successful companies (Sam Altman is president of Y Combinator):
"They (super successful startups) are obsessed with the quality of the product/experience. Almost a little too obsessed—they spend a lot of time on details that at first glance wouldn’t seem to be really important. The founders of these companies react as if they feel physical pain when something isn’t quite right with the product or a user has a bad customer support experience. Although they believe in launching early and iterating, they generally won't release something crappy. (This is not an excuse to launch slowly. You're probably taking too long to launch.)"
I hope this sums it up well. Balance is the key here. Strive hard to maintain a balance between product quality and shipping fast. Your product will improve over time if you listen to your users and keep on iterating, but it’s you who has to make a conscious decision to never ship an inferior product.