Only Great Is Good Enough

by Giff on August 18, 2012

Today Twitter brought to my attention an article in The Independent where Sir Jonathan Ive discussed how close Apple came to shelving the iPhone because of design flaws.

“You have that horrible, horrible feeling deep down in your tummy and you know that it’s OK but it’s not great. And I think some of the bravest things we’ve ever done are really at that point when you say, ‘that’s good and it’s competent, but it not’s great’.”

One reason for Apple’s success is their willingness to say to no to many things, even if it risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They decided to persevere with the iPhone, and it paid off, but they were not willing to settle for just ok.

A lot of big companies do the opposite.  They settle for mediocrity, thinking that their marketing and distribution power will compensate.  It used to work that way, but the more established and efficient the Internet gets, the less and less that is true.

With innovation in particular, only “great” will survive.

One of the reasons why I have embraced “lean startup” is that it provides the framework and discipline that helps you say “that’s not good enough.”  It is so easy not to ask the right, tough questions and just keep on working hard. Lean startup allows you to complement gut with reality checks and a blunt, honest look at what progress and success truly mean.