You're Shipping It Wrong!

There seems to be no confusion around the action of “shipping.” Shipping is pushing something out the door; shipping is getting a product in front of customers. However, it’s easy to forget the reason for shipping: to get quality feedback, early and often.

The key word there is quality. When a person ships shit, the feedback he gets is that his product is shit. His more vocal, loyal customers will give him detailed analyses of which specific parts are shit, in addition to some feedback about how he can make his shit into prettier shit.

Helpful, right? Wrong.

Feedback on a shitty product often fails to answer the core question: is this useful? When a person ships shit, she doesn’t get to fully test the product she set out to make. Instead, her customers judge her execution of an orange when, “It’s really a work-in-progress apple.” In the end, she’s left with a lot of feedback on how to make the perfect orange, and no insights about better apples. In fact, she’s no closer to knowing whether customers even want apples.

This problem could be avoided by shipping in smaller batches. If the goal is to make an apple, ship just the meat/flesh. If people respond well to that, see how they like it with skin/stems/bigger/smaller/etc. Ship when the feedback is likely to answer an important question (and you should have important questions all the time).

Above all, when it comes time to ship, **“cut out features, never cut out quality.” **- David Cancel

Giving a product to customers is easy, but choosing what to give them is hard (and it should be). The feedback cycle is important, don’t waste it!

Huge thanks to David Cancel and Zack Bloom for the lessons and inspiration for this post.