Always be shipping

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over years of building products, it’s this.

It’s doesn’t matter if it’s a small change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not the perfect solution.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have all the features.

Pixel perfect designs, grand debates on the superiority of a new push system — none of it counts unless it’s shipped.

When we look back at our lives and products, it can feel like only a few things were important and really made a difference. Like the time you met your wife at the park or released an epic feature. It’s easy to think that if we had only focused on those and let the other things be we should be ok. However the problem is — it’s really hard to distinguish the good from the bad. Picking winners is incredibly hard — just ask the VCs.

Change is gradual and continuous

Android Froyo — released May 2010. The version where Android took off. Image: Google
Android Oreo (Mar 2017) — We’ve come a long way from the first android version. Image: Google

Sometimes you take leaps and sometimes you crawl. The only important thing is to keep marching. The small optimizations over a period of time add up to a substantial amount.

However there’s a natural aversion to smaller changes. They’re boring. They don’t get us as excited as a big release. Big government projects, big offline campaigns — it’s exciting stuff. It’s so crazy that all political parties promise a new world, a revolution.

Modi government promises a #NewIndia

Shipping helps you take your theories in front of your audience, helps you get valuable feedback that can be used to test your assumptions. In the worst case it confirms that your hypothesis was incorrect.

Shipping also forces us to examine some of the minor use-cases we had ignored at the design stage. It gives us a sense of accomplishment. It keeps teams focused on the problem statement. Shipping solves business problems and provides value to users.

I used to struggle to write more posts till I came across Julie Zhou’s advice on writing stuff even if it isn’t perfect. I wrote 15 posts last year and I’ve already written 5 this year!

In other words, Always be Shipping!

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