Article: Shipping is a Feature

Steven Sinofsky published this back in April:

I chose to focus on what I think is the most challenging aspect of being a PM, which is achieving clarity and maintaining a point of view for a product when all forces work against this very thing. What customers value most in a product is that “it just work” or “does what it is supposed to do,” and yet at every step in a product, the dynamics of design work to make this the most difficult to achieve.

He goes on to list 5 lessons life taught him about product management. Two of them really resonated with me:

Shipping is a feature. Every PM knows this but it is also the hardest thing to get right. As a PM you throw around things like “the enemy of the good is the perfect” or, well, “shipping is a feature” all the time, yet we all have a hard time getting a product out the door. There’s always more to do to get it right.

This one sounds so obvious that it feels almost useless to say. Yet I've seen more than once great features get pushed further down the timeline again and again because it just wasn't ready yet. Humans are prone to the planning fallacy: underestimating how long it will take to get things done. Working against it is a full-time job!

You get paid to decide. Some people love making decisions on their own. Other people need socialization and iteration to make a choice. Either way can work (or not) as a product manager, but to be great you really do have to decide. Deciding anything important or meaningful at all means some people will disagree. Some might really disagree a huge amount. The bottom line is a decision has to be made.

This last one is especially difficult in the context of building a truly open source product, where every committer has an equal voice in the outcome of the product. Sometimes two visions are just not going to align exactly and a choice has to be made. Having a final decider helps a lot.

The whole piece is great - go read it!