Shipping

During my interview with Seth Godin, Seth hit on the concept of “Shipping”, which I was intrigued by.  In classic Seth fashion, the insight wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was presented in a way that really clicked for me.  The concept of shipping is this:

In our price driven marketplace, you need to differentiate through exceptional value if you don’t want to compete on pure cost.  That exceptional value comes through projects that go beyond the scope of your job description or “expected” deliverables (although the concept of “expected” is rapidly growing to include the unknown future projects we’re talking about here.)  When you commit to something beyond the norm, there is a tendency to procrastinate, taking your projects beyond the timeline and budget originally allocated to the project.  We need to stop doing that.

Procrastination is nothing but a fear tactic.  When we “go live” with a new, untested initiative (and provided we do it right), we subject ourselves to ridicule, criticism and heightened public awareness.  Which is precisely what we need to do if we want to make a difference in the world.  But it’s scary, and oh so easy to delay the launch for “justifiable” reasons.

When you decide to launch a new product, service or initiative, pick two numbers – a date for release, and a budget for the project.  Do this intelligently, but do it.  Give yourself two concrete numbers; unchanging numbers.  Then, when the money runs out, or the ship day hits, get it out there.  Launch it to the world.

As Seth says, the first time you launch a half baked project you’ll be embarrassed.  The second time you’ll be disgusted.  Then you’ll never do it again.  Hold yourself to your date and budget (repeatedly) and you’ll ultimately hold yourself to a higher standard.

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