When is good enough?

Eric Ries (from Startup Lessons fame) asked in a post when a product is good enough, specifically referred to product development for startups.

One of the sayings I hear from talented managers in product development is, “good enough never is.”

On the other hand, there are many stories of companies achieving a breakthrough by shipping something that was only “good enough.” One such rumor, which I’ve heard from several sources, tells of the launch of Google Maps.

Eric suggests to use the minimum viable product paradigm to decide when is enough, that is defined as

that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort.

Eric is focusing on startups here, where the minimum viable product is a test of a specific set of hypotheses, as what will the customer care about? How will they define quality?

But for any activity (personal, business) when do you decide that is enough good?  Should you always try to reach the perfection a la Steve Jobs?

What I like to do personally is to handle any similar decision as a resource problem: any activity has some constraint, being time or money. You need to decide if improving further the quality is worth the time or costs needed. This is why I always distrust a conclusive statement such as “good is never enough”.

It isn’t.  It depends on the other (scarce) resources!

[Link] The internet explained

A funny flowchart from Fast Company called explain the internet to a 19th century british street urchin by Doogie Horner.

Your time machine lands in 1835 and you end up trying to explain what internet is to a 12 years old match sticks seller, using metaphors as a series of tubes, a road system and a door to the world.

The urchin picks a scab off his elbow and says: “Instead of walking over to someone’s house to say hi to them , you can just talk though the internet?”.
“Yes”, you reply.
“And instead of walking to the store, you can just buy things from the internet?”
“And instead of crouching outside a pub’s window and listening to music, breathing the cold night air and smelling roasting lamb inside, you can just stay in your house and listen to music on the internet?”.
“Yes”, you say delighted.
“Then it doesn’t sound like the internet connects people, it sounds like it isolates them.”

The urchin folds up his rickety table of match sticks, gives you a long hug, then walks away.

You came here to teach the urchin something, but he’s the one who’s taught you an important lesson about the  shallowness of modern life. You are simultaneously embarrassed by your hubris and humbled by his simple wisdom.

Suddenly you realize that the waif stole your wallet.

The Fundamental Laws of Human Stupidity

Carlo Maria Cipolla, an italian economist, wrote in 1976 a small essay titled The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity (later collected in his 1988 book Happy but not too much), where he listed these five fundamental laws of stupidity:

  1. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

He also created a graph to graphically show where the stupids relate to other people :

Damages to self Benefits to self
Benefits to others Naive Intelligents
Damages to others Stupids Bandits