My Call for Tempered Social Innovation

A quote is making the socmed rounds today, attributed to Reid Hoffman, a
co-founder of LinkedIn, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” The point is iterate fast and release often.

Hmmm…yeah, right, but. I’m a business owner and a (perhaps some would say overly) creative, but my viewpoint on this is tempered contrarian.  It’s important also not to serve your customers undercooked meat.

What bothers me about this theme in LEAN startup, rush to scale, and macho-nerd-tech thinking is that for the organizations and companies I care about, the customers and users are either vulnerable or actively working to assist those who are. Serving up half-baked solutions just isn’t good enough.

I make paintings and collages (well, when I can), so I understand that you get to quality via risk, experimentation, and quantity. My call is for the emphasis on MVP (minimal viable product) to be on viable, rather than minimal.

So. yes to experimentation, iteration, and disruption—but only when formed and tested with thoughtful, strategic, intelligent, experienced care. No to rushed, careless, unexamined, trendy cool partial answers that are more about serving the entrepreneur and startup team than about serving users and customers.

In this work, we need balance between effective models and rush to scale because the people we’re working with and the problems we’re trying to solve really matter.