Facebook’s mantra for developers has long been “Move
Fast and Break Things.”
This idea of doing something, even if it’s not ideal was also
adopted by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, who serves as the tech
Oprah for millions of people. Her version of the slogan is
is Better than Perfect.”
In the startup and “personal brand” worlds, the premise of
“just ship it” is dogma so universally embraced that it joins
the “hustle” mantra to form the twin peaks of
Even acknowledged genius Seth Godin advocated for releasing work
with known flaws. In his book Poke the Box, Godin urged readers to
behave more like computer programmers, shipping
out minimum viable products and improving them in real time. In
this way, at least when he wrote the book in 2010/2011, Godin was
aligned with the Facebook approach of anything goes, as long as it
And in those days — just 8 or 9 years but seemingly a lifetime
ago — customers were wandering around in slack-jawed wonderment,
giddy about all the new innovations that improved their lives.
In 2010 alone, Facebook passed Google to become the most-visited
website, making social networking fully mainstream.
The iPad was launched, creating a whole new computing
Foursquare got popular, kicking off the notion of location-based
Microsoft Kinect appeared for the Xbox 360, taking the “your
body is the controller” trend up a level after it was created by
The Apple app store took off, ushering in a whole new way to get
software and media.
the #1 app for iPhone in 2010, making portable streaming viable
Time Magazine’s #2 iPhone app for 2010, popularizing the
daily deals business model.
In short, technology and
customer experience advances were MASSIVE in this period, with
meaningful shifts in consumer computing, connectivity, and
And in this period, a philosophy of “Done is Better
Than Perfect” may have added up. The public was justifiably blown
away by the scope and scale of these advances, so if the Kinect was
a little buggy or the app store was hard to figure out —
whatever. It’s worth fighting the frustration to get access to
something that has a fundamental impact on how you interact with
others or spend time.
Today, however, the scope and scale of the advances are
primarily in the “same but more” and “same, but a little
better” category. Bigger TVs. Faster streaming. Some AR/VR
frosting on the same, old cake. A paradox of choice at every turn.
Even what is billed as “new” isn’t all that “new” these
And for their part, it’s vastly more difficult to shock and
awe consumers today. All the amazing advances of the recent past
have raised the bar again and again and again such that customer
expectations are higher than ever and continue to escalate.
I vividly remember when the Taco Bell restaurant in my town went
to 24-hours-a-day. It was like a magic trick performed with refried
beans and a talking Chihuaha. Now, everything is 24-hours-a-day,
and I couldn’t care less. I expect it now.
When Zappos popularized free, two-way shipping? We throw around
the term “game-changer” with regularity, but that actually
altered the fabric of e-commerce, forever. Today, most online
stores offer free, two-way shipping. They can’t NOT do it,
because consumers expect it.
This is the yoke of customer experience, and why CX optimization
is so hard in companies. CX is one of the only elements of business
where consumer expectations go up and up and up. What was a
remarkable customer experience three years ago is commonplace
Simultaneously, the long-running economic expansion has also
helped shape how and why customers buy. When times are bad, price
becomes the primary criterion. But when times are good, consumers
take other attributes into account when making a decision. And
these days, customer experience is a driving factor in more, and
more, and more purchases.
Research from Walker suggests that customer experience will be
the deciding factor in a MAJORITY of B2B purchases by next
research study from PwC shows that 75% of Americans say
customer experience is an important factor in their buying
Further, consumers will pay up to a 16% price premium for a
And, 63% of consumers say they’d provide more, personal data
in exchange for better CX.
In this present-day era, where consumers are making decisions
that are significantly dictated by customer experience, how in the
world do you justify putting a product or service into the
marketplace that is knowingly less than great?
The whole idea of “Done is Better Than Perfect” is that
speed trumps quality. But today, if you make that trade-off, you
are strategically and purposefully sacrificing customer experience
for nimbleness. That may accomplish corporate goals. and may help
you cross some parking lot items off your next 2-week product dev
sprint, but it does NOT serve the customer.
Right now — and at least until the economy turns markedly
worse — customers want it ALL. They want it fast, and they want
it great. To give them something less than your best because
you’ve convinced yourself that okay is adequate as long as
you’re moving fast is counter-cyclical at best, and ritual
business suicide at worst.
The entire wheelbarrow of startup culture thinking that
prioritizes progress over making the customers’ job easier has
merit when consumers are genuinely delighted that your new thing
finally exists (even imperfectly). But those days are long past.
And thus, until further notice, it’s time to put a giant fork in
“Done is Better Than Perfect” and similar claptrap, for they
are well and truly past their prime.