Product launch: iteration vs perfection

To launch a new product and product development has a few things in common. One of the more noticeable things is the battle between perfection and completion. This leaves you with two tough options pulling at you as if it was a game of ‘tug of war’. This often paralyses many inventors and entrepreneurs. You not sure whether you should continue to strive for the perfect product or if you should get an imperfect product to the market. It is the ultimate inventor's dilemma.There is a lot to say for perfectionism, a quality build and beautifully crafted design. After all, this is what made Apple what it is today.  ...or is it?

Did you know when Apple first launched the iPhone it was riddled with bugs, had limited functionality and it was far from perfect. Apple took the approach of rapid iteration and today the iPhone is Apple’s best selling product. We all agree that Apple launched a product that is exceptional but the iPhone was far from perfect, “perfect” only came after the market gave a loud and clear message…

...and Apple listened.

Do not let perfection paralyze you, get the product to market and listen for feedback. It is often the case that your most dissatisfied customers shouts the loudest and give you the exact information you need to grow. Do not try and be the swiss army knife of products when you starting out, just launch a simple product, focus on one thing well. You can always expand on your idea later. Having single minded focus will allow you to compete better in the market place.

Disclaimer: As long as your product fulfills on the promises you claim, launch it and let the market tell you what to do next. When providing a product or service you need to have the mindset that a product is never developed but always developing. It's always adapting to the new market conditions with a growing value proposition.

The truth is you may spend years developing what you think is the perfect product only to find out later that the market does not want your “perfect” product. Always iterate your product based on the markets needs. You might be thinking what about Henry Ford or Steve Jobs?:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Henry Ford

“It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”

Steve Jobs

The truth is people do know what they want, they just don’t know how to describe it well enough. In the case of Henry Ford people wanted faster horses because they wanted to have faster transport. There were many reasons like something that was more reliable. Steve Jobs had the exact same problem with the iPad, he could not trust the directions he got from focus groups, they simple did not work. If you thinking faster horses when your customers asks for ‘faster horses’. Then your thinking is one dimensional and to limited. Your customer is giving you directions, it’s your job to distill down the direction. You need to ask yourself why. If this does not help, try asking your customer why. If you find out why your customer wants faster horses you will learn more than if they told you what they want. Do not ask for directions from your customer, try to find the direction.

“Directions are instructions given to explain how. Direction is a vision offered to explain why.”

Simon Sinek

This is why it is so important to drill down to what a person wants, you need to reach the core as to how your product helps them. The ultimate question is are you fulfilling on your customers ‘why’? If not then you should have some idea of what to focus on.

Final thoughts:

As long as your product delivers on its promises, ship it and start the feedback loop then iterate like crazy and let the market be your compass and guide you towards your markets unique version of perfection.

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