One of the main reasons I wanted to hit up The 99% was to see Seth Godin speak in person. Seth is the author of many great books on marketing including Purple Cow and most recently – Tribes. He also has one of the most successful blogs on the web and I’d highly recommend that you subscribe to it or at least give it a visit. He’s a source of constant inspiration.
What Seth wanted to talk about was our Lizard Brain and how that makes us reluctant to ship. He argued that we are all creative – we all have big ideas. That’s not the problem. The problem is that we need to execute. We need to SHIP.
It happens to all of us right? We’re working on a project for weeks or months with a go live date or a deadline that we have to hit. And the closer we get to release (our Ship Date) – somehow magically more people want to have influence in the final product. More people (including ourselves) want to change the product. And the closer we get to the ship date, it seems like the more we want to make last minute revisions and tweaks. We call this ‘Thrashing.’
So why do we thrash, particularly at the last minute? Seth says its our Lizard Brains speaking up. See, in evolutionary terms we all have a lizard brain to a certain extent. It’s the cortexes that evolved around the lizard brain that makes us reason, create, etc. But the lizard brain – that’s the part that is reactionary. It doesn’t have the ability to reason because its preoccupied with threats (animals are pretty much always hungry, scared, horny, or reacting to something).
The threat is that as we get closer to the Ship Date, we start to get scared. Other people want to put in there .02 before the final product goes out. Afterall, we want to please as many people as we can… We want it to be a hit. But that rarely happens with we thrash at the last minute. It s what prevents us from shipping on time, under budget, and with the best quality we can muster.
The answer? Two things. First, Thrash Early. In the planning stages of the ideas, make some ground rules that everyone from the top down has to follow. Everyone. For instance, if you don’t show up to the thrashing meetings to voice your ideas – you don’t count. If you don’t have the confidence to speak up early on, to make your opinions heard – you don’t count. Because its by thrashing early that we’re able to set goals, set priorities, and bring the project to its full potential.
The 2nd lesson is to know when to ship. Often late in the process, more and more ideas and hands get put into the pot and the cause of that is cost overruns, and delays. Don’t. Keep to the plan. When do we ship? We ship when we run out of time, or run out of budget. Period.
In the end, the products and ideas that are rewarded are the ones that are tangible. They are the ones that are executed. They are the ideas that have shipped.