Relentless Shipping

Relentless Quality is a great piece. We should all strive to make really fantastic stuff. But I think there’s a nuance worth observing here:

Sharpen the edges, polish the surface and make it shine.

I’m afraid that some people are going to read more than the Kneath intends here. Quality does not mean perfection. Perfection is the enemy of shipping. Quality is useless if it doesn’t ship. Quality is not an excuse for not shipping.

Quality is a subjective, amorphous thing. To you, it means the fit and finish. To me, it means that all the bugs have been eliminated and possible bugs thought about and excised. Even to Christopher Alexander, quality isn’t nailed down; he refers to good buildings as possessing the “quality without a name”.

To whit, this shortcoming is pointed out in the original essay:

Move fast and break things, then move fast and fix it. Ship early, ship often, sacrificing features, never quality.

Scope and quality are sometimes at odds. Schedules and quality are sometimes at odds. There may come a time when you have to decide between shipping, maintaining quality, and including all the features.

The great thing about shipping is that if you can do it often enough, these problems of slipping features or making sacrifices in quality can fade away. If you can ship quickly, you can build features out, test them, and put that quality on them in an iterative fashion. Shipping can’t cure all ills, but it can ease many of them.

Kneath is urging you to maintain quality; I’m urging you to ship some acceptable value of quality and then iterate to make it amazing. Relent on quality, if you must, so you can ship relentlessly.

Adam Keys @therealadam