January 6, 2015

Taking Imperfect Action

In starting out the new year, one of the things that I keep coming back to is needing to take action. But one of the things that prevents me from taking action is that I know my actions will not be perfect. Perfect?

imperfectExactly. It may be a trait from my previous life as a software engineer but I always had a problem when my team wanted to release a product when I knew it was not yet perfect. I had to learn that taking action, even taking IMPERFECT action, was a better course to take that waiting until it was “perfect“, and primarily because we all know it would NEVER be perfect.

Look at the examples in the world today. Remember all the hubbub about the iPhone5 antenna issues? Do you have any idea of how much revenue Apple would have lost if they had waited to correct that issue before releasing the almost-ready product? We are talking about at least a 7 digit number here. Or another very classic example is Microsoft with the many releases of Windows. Waiphones Windows perfect in any of those releases?  Absolutely not but it was stable enough for Microsoft to release it, make millions of dollars on it, and send out regular updates to fix things that perhaps COULD have been fixed before they even released it … at the cost of losing out on millions of dollars worth of sales. If Microsoft had waited until the software was “perfect”, I am sure we would all be running Linux with Open Office today.

But do you see where I’m going with this? Delaying taking action because it’s not perfect and continuing to add more bells and whistles to it is preventing you from getting your product or advertisement out there to the masses, where it can start paying for itself, and you can still continue to enhance it and make changes to it.

Feature Creep

Have you ever heard of “feature creep”? It’s an insidious ailment that many software engineers develop over time, a kissin’ cousin to the Frankenstein Complex. It’s where you get to a point in featurethe product development when all you had planned to do it working well and as it should be, but then you get to thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if it could also do this”, and so you DELAY its implementation while you add that new feature. Then that gets completed, and another thought comes to you, and the process repeats.

Let me give you a real example from my previous life. I was working for this major multinational computer company (DEC) and was given the opportunity to create some software for a major conference — about 50,000 people from all across Europe to attend this conference in Cannes France. Yes, that summer I lived in London (Reading) England for 1 week teaching a computer course, then lived in Geneva Switzerland for 6 weeks and in Cannes for 5 weeks to create this software. It was a mid 80’s version of a social media thing, where each attendee had an account, and could sign in from anywhere at the show to get information, make dinner reservations, email his colleagues, etc.

languagesSo I got it completed but then Feature Creep came in … gee, this is being held in France, so let’s make it so the attendee can push a button and all the menus and information is shown in French. Kind of obvious, right?  So I did that. But then I thought about the German contingents where a lot of German customers were coming, so I added another button to display everything in German. But then not wanting to offend other countries, I kept adding and adding, where the final deployed version of it could switch from English to any one of 12 other European languages. It was my masterpiece but that insidious feature creep almost made it a non-reality at all!

Thankfully, even with the huge amount of Feature Creep, it was completed less than 48 hours prior to the opening of the conference, and it worked well.

Perfection Is The Enemy Of Success

If you wait for “perfection” before you actually deploy something, you are doomed. Seriously. Yes there are some necessary things you need to know as “basics” before you deploy pattonsomething — for example, if you embark on a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign with Google before you understand how PPC really works, you can lose your shirt overnight.  (Voice of experience there). But once you have a basic understanding of what you are going to do and make sure there is an excellent ROI (Return On Investment), whether that investment is dollars and/or time and effort, then just DO IT. Don’t spend weeks wondering if you should phrase your ad differently or use a better adjective in your content, or use a 24 point headline in blue instead of a 20 point headline in red, or use another comma here, etc, etc, just DO IT and make adjustments as necessary as you go along.

The benefit of taking the “take imperfect action” approach is that you are actually then IN THE GAME. Maybe you’re not PERFECTLY in the game, but you’re in it nonetheless, and that beats sitting on the bench, NOT being in the game, striving for perfection, every time and any day of the week.  Just ask Joe Kavarski.  Oh, you don’t know Joe?  Me neither, because he is still perfecting his advertising campaign strategy and has deployed NOTHING to date….

Become My VAR Partner

varJust today I got authorization to switch you to become my VAR partner instead of a Cognigen or Commission River lead agent.  I do not yet have all the details as to how that will work but I can say that doing so would be, in my humble opinion, a better option for you going forward, if you are planning to continue creating leads.  If you ARE interested in this, please just shoot me a quick email with a “yea verily” or something to that effect (and include your agent ID, as I don’t have a good way to go from your name to your agent ID) so I can gauge interest in doing this for you.  Details to follow as soon as I have them.