Recently, the company I work in just released a web application. Before you close this page saying, “okay, I’m not into a marketing campaign like this”, I want to make sure that I’m not trying to promote it with this post. Of course I will, but there is more proper place and time to discuss about it than this blog post. Instead, I want to write about this funny feeling I suddenly have about the whole project. What feeling? Here we go… .
When we were a children, we fell at our first trial to walk. We failed to pronounce our own name correctly at our early stage of learning to talk. Not ended there, we had so many other failures follow later on: we stepped one or two too many in our first training to do a “lay up” in the basketball club, we fell from our bike the first time we tried to ride it, we were almost drowning in the swimming pool, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, I did not follow through on my bicycle and swimming lesson, so I can’t ride a bike and can’t swim. Yeah, it’s a shame… but I think this is not our main topic here.
My point is… I don’t think we ever get it right at the first time we attempt to do something. I don’t think anyone ever does. Yet, none of us stopped trying doing things that we now perceive as regular mundane things like walking, talking, or riding a bike (not so regular for me, though). That’s why in the end we get it right. We tried, and after many failures we finally get it right.
This childhood feeling is exactly what I feel about finally releasing our work for public consumption. For some times now, my company has struggled so bad to give a go on our previous product. We have not released it after almost one and a half year of development. Things changed when we were faced with a catastrophic event that I’m not ready to share it publicly here. In short, we changed our direction and decided to actually release something no matter how small the set of features it has. And yes, we did. We threw it for reviews to some of our friends, made required fix for these early inputs, and then a day later we “soft launched” it by posting about in the so called “social media”. In a day the web app got a hit more than this blog got in a month. Damn.
And we, of course, made mistake. There are few bugs found, and we fixed it right away. There are some things that according to people who visited should be there, and there are some things that should not be there. We take these critics and comments as input to make the web app better, and try to incorporate them to our next iteration* that is planned to be done in two weeks. And we’ll release the next version of the web app right away.
I… somehow feel so great about this. I’m definitely not saying the web app we’ve just launched will be a hit and be successful in the market. In fact, that’s not my major concern right now. It can be a flop, a hit, or another mediocre app that everyone will forget in months. But this somehow does not make me feel not enthusiastic. I’m enthusiastic about how far we can go with this one, and if it does fail in the future, how much we can learn from this. I know it sounds like a foolish thought.
But of course I’m not saying that we risk our whole fortune on this. We’re not trying to make a suicidal project, for sure. We calculate in our own way how to balance the risk and the gain we make from this one. Hopefully all the effort we put on this will worth it.
In the end, I just feel relieved about finding back my guts to not too worry about how to get things right at the first time. I’ve come to accept that nothing will be right at the first time. But please do use these words in the proper context. Don’t use it as, “yeah, don’t worry too much about our marriage, none gets everything right in the first try. So, let’s try it. If we fail… we can have a divorce, right?” I won’t hold myself responsible for divorces caused by this kind of thinking.
It’s just… when you want to make something, some work that you think worth of your time to try to make it real… don’t overthink about it. Don’t be too afraid that you will not get it right in the first attempt, because most of the time you won’t. Just start making it, and then make it available for the public to criticize it, then from that critics you make it better. I don’t guarantee you’ll make masterpieces with this approach, but in my experience so far… I feel great about how good or bad people response to what we’ve made.
* iteration is a term in Agile Development Method. It describes a period of time in which developers do a full cycle of software development from analysis to deployment.