Knowing when to stop

I tend to harp on craftsmanship. I’m impressed by people who have developed a skill to a place where they produce excellence without seeming to try, whether that’s goods or knowledge. There’s very little more satisfying than to produce something at the highest quality, or see it produced that way.

But there’s another part of knowing your craft, and that’s knowing when to stop. Not everything that needs to be produced must be at that extraordinary level of excellence. In fact, sometimes good enough is exactly what is needed.

In product management, there’s a concept known as the minimally acceptable product. This is a term that makes non-marketers cringe, because they tend to think it means you’re producing low-quality goods, and this isn’t necessarily the case. The minimally acceptable product meets the minimum quality standard and feature set that will be accepted by the market. You create this product for market tests and product launches, and then add features and increase quality later. It’s good enough, and it’s exactly what’s needed.

I’m occasionally heard to say that sometimes done is better than good. What I mean by this is that there are activities where it’s more important that they’re out the door than they’ve achieved perfection. Sometimes you need a level of agility that doesn’t support the time required to get something absolutely perfect.

The craft is in the recognition. It takes a high level of skill and experience to recognize when you need a minimally acceptable product, know the minimum levels of quality, and produce those quickly and efficiently.

Leave a Reply