Done Is Better Than Perfect

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In school we are taught to target the right answer. I envision the math problem sets that encouraged us to show our work and neatly box the correct answer at the bottom – and we were ultimately judged on the basis of that answer. But in the fast-paced world of tech, that approach doesn’t exactly work. Beyond the question of “what is the right answer?”, we have an adage on my team that done is better than perfect.

“Move fast and break things” is the motto that enabled Facebook to grow so rapidly. In the context of moving quickly, getting something done in a timely manner and on paper can actually be more valuable than being 100% accurate. Usually, getting to that level of accuracy requires modeling or precision that isn’t necessary to make an informed business decision.

This is predicated on the idea that there is a right or “perfect” answer, which there usually is not. In the tech world, you’re usually trying to solve problems that haven’t been solved, or answer questions that have never been answered. Cranking away until you get the right answer when the solution can usually be discerned at 80% of the way there means you’re wasting time when you could be working on something else.

Of course, there are instances in which you precision is imperative: you might need to propose 1 exact number or finish the demo of a product. For the most part, having an MVP – a minimum viable product, is enough to propel you to the next step of whatever you’re working on. If you’re going to move quickly and keep up with the market, done has to be better than 100% right.

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Done Is Better Than Perfect