Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

Balancing Good Enough and Perfect

Managing Expectations
Product
Prioritization

19 September, 2021

Rohit Karanam
Rohit Karanam

Director, Product Management at Teradata

Rohit Karanam, Director, Product Management at Teradata, discusses how to strike a balance between good enough and perfect when getting a product out the door fast becomes a priority.

Problem

People have been torn by the dilemma of balancing good enough and perfect since the beginning of time. And to no surprise, product management is not exempt from it. I am sure that every product manager deliberates daily about making the tradeoffs between getting a product out the door fast and assessing how it will impact its quality and adoption.

Sticking to good enough will allow product managers to get a product out of a door quickly, test it with a potential target market, and gauge if it brings sufficient ROI. As expected, quality comes as the first collateral. Good enough is not good enough for certain types of markets, which will translate into lower adoption. On the other hand, perfection will entail a longer time to market, and sometimes that longer time will mean being too late.

My job as a product leader is to find that subtle balance between the two approaches.

Actions taken

For starters, I want to emphasize that every product -- and in this case, my product portfolio -- with its unique context, influences how one should approach the good enough-perfect dilemma. I am aware that my approach will not be the best approach for others since people tend to look at this problem from different angles. In my opinion, defining well a market segment or who the users would be is critical in deciding which route one should take. Understanding user needs, especially when one has to make compromises, is fundamental. I am a big believer that one should never compromise with user needs but should compromise anywhere else.

The next step I would take would be to differentiate between a user and a buyer. My favorite analogy is one of the video games. Kids are playing video games, but it is parents who are buying them. You need to cater to both sides of the customers to be successful. If you don’t cater to parents, they would never buy your product. If you don’t cater to kids, they would never use the product. There has to be a bit of everything for buyers and users. Pleasing both means making tradeoffs and assessing how much good enough will be good for any of the two.

Then, I would try to understand how my product could generate value for end customers. I would never compromise on things that would genuinely generate value for customers. As Steve Jobs compellingly explained, one should not compromise on the vision but on the path to the vision. I won’t mind taking a detour here and there if I know where I am heading. However, this is where the dilemma of good enough vs. perfect takes its most crafty form: it should apply only to execution, not to the end state.

In the end, I would like to add a more inward perspective. Oftentimes, in their quest for perfection, PMs tend to overprescribe requirements to engineering. They would stifle innovation by dictating how things should look, leaving no leeway for engineers to fill it in with innovation. The end result would frequently be a polar opposite to the original intention: without an opportunity to innovate, engineers would not be motivated and would rush to deliver good enough in the best case.

Lessons learned

  • Balance is a journey. You will not get it right from the start. Be prepared to get it wrong many times. The point is that when you get it wrong, you will be able to fix it and fix it quickly. For example, if you have a product that you think is good enough, but as it turns out, has minimal adoption, refresh it, reiterate it and get it out the door quickly. Waiting too long will create a negative perception that alone will be hard to battle. On the other hand, you will sometimes have to strive for perfection, not for the sake of it but because a market segment you are targeting expects nothing less. Each product will require a different approach, so be open-minded and patient, and knowing how to strike a balance will come by itself.
  • Whichever route you choose to take, don’t create long-term damage for a short-term gain. Whenever you encounter the good enough-perfect dilemma, think about tomorrow and how your decision will influence the future of the product.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Why Overloading Product Teams Never Work

23 November

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi, VP of Product at Evermos, shares how he identified the symptoms of his overworked product team and worked towards defining conflicting priorities.

Managing Expectations
Product Team
Deadlines
Stakeholders
Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

VP of Product at Evermos

How to Pivot a Product Idea at the Right Time

23 November

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi, VP of Product at Evermos, shares how he diligently managed a product in one of the biggest eCommerce companies by being an individual contributor.

Innovation / Experiment
Product Team
Product
Embracing Failures
Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

VP of Product at Evermos

Overcoming imposter syndrome through focusing on your strengths

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, recalls when he had to battle imposter syndrome when managing a new team.

Product Team
Product
Health / Stress / Burn-Out
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

How to Build Rapport With an Introverted Manager

17 November

Piyush Dubey, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft, shares his journey of climbing up the career ladder through awkward times dealing with an introverted manager.

Managing Expectations
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Juniors
Piyush Dubey

Piyush Dubey

Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft

Demystifying the Cult of the Founding Engineer: Talking to Customers and Discovering “Hidden” Talent

23 November

Albert Lie, former Founding Engineer and Tech Lead at Xendit, didn’t know what it takes to become an early engineering hire and not a lot of people around him experienced this unknown and arcane path. He had to learn it the hard way from the pitfalls he encountered along the way and he has been creating numerous frameworks to measure his growth and keep burgeoning in this role since then. He codifies and expresses the systems he put in place surrounding the balance of customer inquiry to product building and growing the engineering team.

Alignment
Meetings
Feedback
Hiring
Prioritization
Albert Lie

Albert Lie

Former Tech Lead at Xendit

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.