How to perfectly develop a successful imperfect product
How to perfectly develop a successful imperfect product
Entrepreneurial perfectionism has multiple nuances yet there's a fine line between excellence and stressful perfection. Alexandru Bogdan puts in perspective both ends of the perfectionism spectrum in the business area to find the threshold where the product's value stands tall.
Alexandru Bogdan
5 min. read
How to perfectly develop a successful imperfect product

Thinking of creating a new product that deserves to meet the success you’re imagining? 

One thing I realized along the years in product development is that the process of creating the ‘perfect’ product starts with you.

So let me ask you:




Are you a perfectionist?


Take this simple imagination test:


You are closing in on the launch date of your product. 


The team is going full throttle ahead and connects the last remaining pieces. The accelerated pace imposed to capitalize on the current market opportunity doesn't leave you enough time to go through all the details. Regardless of the many preparations and calculations that went into this, your brain is itching when thinking about all the other details that could’ve been better. 


You want to have one final look over the project. 


For the majority of people, everything would be perfect, but you see them all: the button has another shade of blue, the icons are not crisp and some of the interactions do not fit your expectations. 


What would you do: go ahead with what you have, panic and stress the team, or even abort the launch? If you consider the former, there are high chances you are a perfectionist. 




Or are you the fail-fast fail-forward type?


Your product launches on the promised date.


Not everything’s perfectly in place. The design could have been better ‘around the edges’, some functionalities are delayed and the user journey is not as smooth as you'd expect. Even so, the product needed to meet the market on the date as it’s been promised. And it does.


And it fails to reach the success initially imagined.


You analyze the data to see what exactly caused the product to not meet the success. You realize it wasn't any of the delayed functionalities you were worrying about, but another detail you didn’t even think about at that point. That is when you came to the realization that you don’t know what you don’t know until you try. You are now content you know to use the resources of the upcoming iteration to enhance the identified functionality. The next release responds to the customer’s expectations and the product meets an even bigger success than the one firstly envisioned.


If you’re resonating more with the second scenario, chances are you are not that much of a perfectionist. Or at least you know how to balance it out for the long-term gains


Both have different strengths and weaknesses. Both of these can result in success stories. Or not. 


The reason why I start off with this: you need to know from ground zero through what lenses you view the process and the product itself.


Even if sometimes it feels like a moral obligation to imagine the worst-case scenarios, perfectionism can easily result in lower quality prioritization and decision-making. Yet, without a healthy dose of perfectionism, the product risks not to stand out from the crowd. 



Is perfectionism a blessing or a curse in disguise?


In business, perfectionism is often perceived as positive, given that higher standards are most likely to yield better results. 


Let’s take the popular example of Steve Jobs who conducted a massive market disruption by bringing about the closest to perfection products we know. The design, the quality, and interaction for all iPhones, iPods, iPads, and iMacs felt out of this world.


Based on these outcomes his perfectionism falls for sure in the positive bucket. But on the other side of the coin, almost no one wanted to work under him due to the immense pressure exercised. 


So, where exactly is that sweet spot of balance needed in business when it comes to perfecting a product?




Channel your perfectionism to boost the crucial moments in product development


Just like nature, product development progresses through seasons that inevitably challenge the entire team, especially the entrepreneur, to adapt to its changing environment. Depending on the moment of the development, balancing the dose of perfectionism is key. 


It’s your challenge as an entrepreneur to choose the moments accordingly so that the attention to detail is not tiresome, but rather meaningful for the entire team. 


Whether you launch the ‘perfect product’ or not, there are always mistakes to learn from to hold on to success in the long run.


Extreme attention to detail can offer your product the edge on the market while at the same time distract you from the areas you should actually focus on. As long as you don’t find the right threshold for this, it’s really easy to fall on the wrong side.




How to define a fair threshold of perfectionism


While you’re in the process of product development, misinterpretation of the audience’s needs is always hiding right around the corner. The focus given to certain features you consider essential for the product to be seen as ‘perfect’ might not always be the determining factor of success in the eye of the user. 


Business-wise, untamed biases can increase the distance between you and your market and become very costly in the long run. We are all biased by our own perspectives, no news there. But when it comes to perfectionism, biases can get even more accentuated, thus more expensive.



‘Learning from mistakes can change your fortune — or earn you one.’ - Ray Dalio


Ray Dalio’s recipe for success? 


Sharpening the entrepreneurial ability to build awareness around failures to systematically learn from those mistakes. 


His net worth? $20 billion. 

Needless to say, it looks like it’s working out pretty well.


Creating a similar system enables you to experiment with your perfectionism and identify which approach brings more value to your business.





Fail smarter: Create a system for your mistakes


To maintain a balance, an in-depth validation of these assumptions is what keeps every bit of the development in check.


Just imagine this. 





If you prototype your idea, 
test it against real users, and channel the resources to meet the real user expectations, 
you frankly just created yourself a reality-check for your perfectionism, right? 


Multiple iterations can speed up the discovery, development, feedback, which results in a better understanding of how users perceive your product. You can now pinpoint more precisely what actions are required to achieve what you want. 


Oftentimes that extreme perfectionism is driven by the uncertainty and fear of not having made enough. What real data and information offer is better clarity regarding that and alignment for everyone involved. 


Enable faster and better decision-making by understanding the market standards, their boundaries, their why. That’s a fair way to figure out how to achieve them. 


To achieve this you need to understand your industry and how it works, identify the issues that need to be addressed, and what’s expected. There isn’t a one size fits all approach, but implementing a strong process validation can only increase your chances of success.


To wrap things up, I have some final thoughts for you:


Truthfully, I am an advocate of attention to detail and striving for perfection. I do believe in confidently following a vision and taking the steps required to achieve it. It feels like a constant push towards growth and becoming better.


That’s also how I have found myself in multiple situations when I delayed or put on hold initiatives, added additional unnecessary pressure on the team (and myself), and even missed opportunities. And that’s why I’m more and more interested in ‘perfecting’ my perfectionism levels - to be tailored to the actual need of the product.


I’ll leave you with two simple yet effective questions that help me stay in check:




  • How much is too much and what is really enough? 
  • How high do we set our standards and where do we draw a threshold?


Take advantage of perfectionism by making it your ally. And, if you believe you have the perfect product or are striving for one, don’t miss out on opportunities while perfecting your idea. Reach out to us. We are prepared to challenge your assumptions and validate the success of your vision, together. 

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