Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said if you’re not embarrassed by your idea when you launched it, then you’ve launched it too late. He has since qualified this by saying that he isn’t advocating that it is okay to launch ideas that lead to lawsuits, brand damage, or that sloppiness is acceptable. However, he is saying that being embarrassed is okay.
Reid is advocating a version of an idea or product that is positioned in such a way that shows how the concept might work to get real feedback from real users. Keeping yourself locked away, working to come up with the perfect product ideas without authentic feedback does you and your idea a disservice. Real users help to define how ideas will actually work and what the most valuable use cases will be. One of the biggest mistakes teams make is the being worried to release things that are not ‘perfect’.
Two of the VFQ Principles speak to the idea Reid was referring to. The first is Deliver Value Early and Often and the second is Discover Quality with Fast Feedback. Don’t wait for concepts to be perfect before you share them with others – you might be (and hopefully are) creating value for users by launching early. As an exchange to adding value for users, you also get their feedback as that leads to refinements and improvements that will make the product truly work (or, in some cases, even scrapping ideas that don’t work).
It’s important to remember that it will be pretty when you get to a solution that is ready for the mass market, but it might not be pretty along the way. In the middle, things tend to look a bit of a mess, and it’s helpful to get past the worry and allow your market to add value to your product through feedback while you add value to your market with your product.
Regardless of the current state of your idea, how might you get real feedback from real users that helps better refine your product or service without creating problems for your company?