Would you rather know you have a problem at 20 ft or at 2 ft?
That’s a question Tony Blauer asked during his Be Your Own Bodyguard seminar. It was in the context of a stranger following you down a dark street. Would you rather turn around and yell, hey! are you following me? when the stranger is eight paces back or wait to be sure when you’re already within arms reach? If you yell, and you’re wrong, you’ll look foolish. If you wait, and you’re right, is that worse?
Would you rather know you have a problem while you still have the space to do something about it? I would. Every time.
Let’s ask that another way.
Would you rather know you have a problem when you’ve spent $10,000 developing a product, or when you’ve spent $1 million? That one’s obvious, right?
How about this?
Would you rather know you have a problem after you’ve spent 15 hours on your work, or after you’ve spent 15 weeks?
Until we ask, we can’t know. Until we get the question out of us (calling back to the stranger on the street or sharing our creation), we can’t understand the answer. Up until that moment, we are guessing, and hoping, and pouring energy into something that might turn out to be a problem.
Wouldn’t you rather know that while you still have the ability to do something about it? Before you are so emotionally attached to the outcome that you're defensive about a need to change? While you still have resources and energy available to consume?
What does that even mean?
It means putting your work out into the world once it is just barely enough of a product to stand on its own. Once it has enough information to communicate your message. Once it has the necessary features to approximate your vision. Once your community’s feedback will give you good data and show you were to improve.
A proof of concept. A pilot. A beta version. A test case. A minimum viable product.
It means setting your vision, your idea, your best case. And then getting real about what you really need to complete before you let your idea run wild in the world. What features are a must? Which can wait? What research must be done? What additional work would be tangential at best? What is good enough to communicate a good effort without having to polish to perfection?
Set that standard. Make that thing. And put it out into the world while you still have the resources to improve it.
Because, let’s be honest, you’re going to have to improve it. No matter when you share, you are going to have to modify. No matter how much you polish, you’re going to re-edit and update. You are going to feel foolish about something. You are going to take on board community feedback. You are going to build a 2.0.
Would you rather learn what that is at 20 ft or at 2 ft?
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