The term “good enough” comes from the world of software design. It’s the idea that most products will do what the customer wants them to do, even if they don’t have all the features the software developer would like.
Although the term has been around for a long time, the notion has been gaining traction in recent years. Technology, especially software, has developed dramatically, and this means that there are now a lot more features that most software developer companies can pack into their products. Although these opportunities are exciting, many people in business, as well as customers themselves, are now concluding that many software packages are over-engineered and it’s causing developers to rethink their approach.
This notion that products could be “over-engineered2goes against most developer’s intuition. They have been trained from a very early age to strive for perfection: but striving for perfection can just be another way of delaying and procrastinating, and not actually getting anything done.
As a result, more and more businesses are jumping on the “good enough” bandwagon. They’re ditching features left, right and center, and looking for ways to deliver products that customers will love, even if they don’t have world-beating functionality.
Google is perhaps the best example of a company that has mastered this particular art. Every month, it introduces new services and products. Often these products remain in beta for years as they are slowly developed over time. Google Maps, for instance, began as a very basic map service. In fact, compared to Apple’s offering, what Google offered was laughably simple. The first versions weren’t even integrated with GPS. But as the number of users grew, Google added more features and detail. It then integrated the app with satellite navigation and allowed businesses to connect with their customers through it. Over time, what was once “good enough” became a market leader, precisely because it identified a niche early on.
Google made use of tools for test management, making incremental improvements to its software over an extended period of time. Sometimes that software failed, (like Google Reader), but often it was highly successful, going on to be the go-to platform for customers and businesses.
Google’s strategy all along was to create minimum viable products – as they are known in the industry. It made products that offered the bare minimum to keep customers happy and did it very well. Once the products were used and tested, it then added new functions, at each stage offering customers more usability. Google Mail went from a very simple, if intuitive, email service to the best in the world, thanks to the numerous additions, including things like AI sorting of emails into primary, social, promotion and spam.
Google also placed a lot of emphasis on consumer feedback. What they they thought about their own products internally wasn’t important. Instead, they went out into the community and asked customers about the features that they would like to see. Customers soon responded, and Google implemented the ones that were the most urgent.
The bottom line for entrepreneurs is to understand that even the largest companies have tradeoffs during their stages of development. Google’s products have always been a work in progress, and so should yours.