Posted On: Friday, 29 May 2015 by Rajiv Popat

Author, Speaker and legendary Evangelist Guy Kawasaki, is bold, loud and un-ashamed about shipping revolutionary stuff that is basically... crappy.

Guy is famously known to say:

Don't worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test... Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap - but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.

I've written extensively about the Don't Worry Be Crappy Philosophy before. The central premise of this idea is that it's okay to roll out a new idea before it's fully baked without worrying about the fact that it's not perfect yet.

After one year of working on my first book I fought an internal battle with myself questioning if the book was good enough to go live. After over two months of proof reading and editing I realized that I was getting to defensive about my work. It was time to let go and ship. And even though the book made it to best sellers list in its category for a few days and received a very good response, I still go back and read the book and push out updates to it every other week in an attempt to make it better.

The beauty of shipping creative work (whether it's a movie, book or code) is that you are never done; but you still ship and when you do that you have an opportunity to get real world feedback from real customers. You can then intently listen to that feedback and change fast.

In Pixar this process is often referred to as the process of going from suck to non-suck. Author Peter Sims describes Pixar's philosophy of throwing out something that sucks and then blazing from suck to non-suck really fast in his book, Little Bets - How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries. Peter describes:

Pixar’s experience with Finding Nemo in 2001 was just one example. The film came at a critical time for the company, too, since Disney was considering its option to renew its contract with Pixar. And after six years in the movie business, Pixar hadn’t had a bust. Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, was given a sneak preview of how the movie was unfolding nine months before its release.

As David Price recounts in The Pixar Touch, Eisner emailed the Disney board: "Yesterday we saw for the second time the new Pixar movie 'Finding Nemo' that comes out next May. This will be a reality check for those guys. It's okay, but nowhere near as good as their previous films. Of course they think it is great."

Eisner wanted to wait until the film released (and failed) before conducting further negotiations with Steve Jobs about renewing the Disney/Pixar coproduction deal.

Eisner wasn’t wrong, per se, at least about the state of the movie itself. Finding Nemo needed dramatic improvement. However, his assessment severely missed Pixar's ability to recognize the issues, iterate, and improve. The team, led by director Andrew Stanton, understood the problems, including the fact that the movie had at least one too many plotlines and endured a frantic nine months to fix them.

Finding Nemo would, of course, become another huge Pixar hit, validating Ed Catmull’s belief that it’ s better to fix problems than prevent errors.

Look around you and you'll realize that most masters in their fields have at one point or the other in their life produced stuff that's crappy to begin with. Getting paralyzed in search of perfection won't make you a master of your field - failing early, failing often and then recovering from those failures even faster might.

It is a recurring trait you see in individuals and companies that ship remarkable products. They all go from suck to non-suck. They just do it way faster than you and I do it today. And That's a craft we should all try to learn, practice and make a part of our lifestyle. People have short memories and no-one is going to remember the crap you shipped, as long as you can take real feedback and move from suck to non-suck... really fast.

Comment Section

Comments are closed.