The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good

Voltaire’s famous quote can explain a lot these days.  Instead of waiting for the perfect solution, customers are settling on at what at first glance seems like imperfection.  Why would anyone use a simple document editor (Google docs) when it doesn’t have the litany of features that Microsoft Word has been building for years?  Why stop to see a general doctor at a pharmacy when you can go to a hospital and have access to many doctors?

In this month’s Wired article, “The Good Enough Revolution” , Robert Capps covers several products/industries that are being radically changed by new products/services that focus on simplicity, accessibility, and cost:  flip video cameras, online TV, netbooks, e-laywers, and more.  And for why he explains:

The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier.  As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing.  We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished.  Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect.

Lots to consider for the product manager here.  The general rule is that the next release must have more features, right?  Who wants to go backwards?

In the new reality, there may be opportunies to meet your customer’s needs with a simpler (and cheaper solution) than you are currently offering.  The question is, can you and should you try to offer it first?  Not an easy question (see the Innovator’s Dilemma).  The risk is that if you don’t, you may be playing catch-up or worse, left behind.