Shipping is a Feature. A Really Important Feature. Your Product Must Have it.

by Venue Cricket
March 3, 2012

In his blog post / book chapter titled The Duct Tape Programmer, Joel Spolsky talks about a type of programmer.

"He is the kind of programmer who is hard at work building the future, and making useful things so that people can do stuff. He is the guy you want on your team building go-carts, because he has two favorite tools: duct tape and WD-40. And he will wield them elegantly even as your go-cart is careening down the hill at a mile a minute. This will happen while other programmers are still at the starting line arguing over whether to use titanium or some kind of space-age composite material that Boeing is using in the 787 Dreamliner."

 

In my experience in both the corporate and the startup world I have seen this type of programmer a lot. And weather you call him “The Duct Tape Programmer” or “Cowboy Coder” he can be both a blessing and a menace to your business. A programmer like that is quick and rash. He will see a solution before anyone else, and will implement a solution before you even realize there is a problem. He will bristle at most structure imposed around him and will work very well in apparent chaos. This type of programmer can be detrimental to a large corporation but is essential to a startup. In fact, this is who you want on your team on day one.

 

Why? Because:

"Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it."

-Joel Spolsky from The Duct Tape Programmer

 

To put it another way, until you have a product out in the wild and people using it, you don’t have a startup, or a business or a venture. You just have a bunch of people sitting around laptops. you just have a hobby.


Too many times do founders spend so much time designing and creating the perfect product that they actually do forget to ship it and that someone has to actually use it. A good example is the doomed game titled “Duke Nukem Forever.” A game that was decades late, and a huge flop. Yet, the teams that worked on it spend many years writing and rewriting it, adding more and more features and polish. Polish that nobody wanted; their users just wanted a game. Too often do founders loose sight of their user and start designing something that is nice to have but not what the customers want.


In short, release early, release often, get feedback, do it all over again.

Dmitry Grekov is a technology architect with Accenture and a co-founder of Venue Cricket a marketplace for Chicago Event Venues. You can follow him on twitter: @dgrekov.

 

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