Sometimes, You Just Gotta Ship

As I wrote last week, there are few things that can make you look worse than mailing it in.

Doing anything at half-speed or without conviction will almost always generate subpar results.

Almost always.

It is possible to take an aversion to “mailing it in” too far. You can plan and tweak and fret over a thing forever, never releasing your project or writing that novel that you keep talking about.

The only thing worse than producing subpar results? Producing nothing at all.

The French philosopher Voltaire summed this up better than I ever could with his aphorism “perfect is the enemy of good“.

The idea being, sometimes you just have to produce and see what happens. Sometimes you have to put a thing out into the world even if you don’t think it’s ready.

Eric Ries calls it Minimum Viable Product.

Steven Pressfield calls it overcoming The Resistance.

Seth Godin calls it shipping.

(Side note – I completed Godin’s altMBA program last year and during the intense 30 day sprint he frequently drilled the idea of shipping into our heads. I became such a disciple of the art of shipping that I almost named this blog Matt Ships. Then I realized that could easily be read as Matt’s Hips so yeah, I nixed that idea).

Okay, so shipping is good. Mailing it in is bad. Great.

Now, how do we find the right balance?

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy or obvious.

The company I work for, King of Pops, is only about six years old. We are growing and changing rapidly, and sometimes that frustrates our employees and even our customers.

We launch new projects weekly. We change org charts quarterly. We open new businesses at least yearly (like this one. . . and this one).

A lot of times we launch these things without having every single detail finalized. Or even most details.

But we do it all in the spirit of creating great things, and we do our very best to never mail it in.

We have decided to dance with the tension between the competing poles of “mail it in” and “just ship”.

As a company, we don’t always hit the sweet spot. Neither do I. Neither will you.

But with practice, you will.

Go. Do. Ship.