70% is the new…


Spanish shoemaker Camper made headlines in San Francisco when the company opened its unfinished store to customers, simply calling it “Walk in Progress”.  Customers were invited to draw on the unpainted walls and shoes were displayed on top of packaging containers.  Customers loved it and the most popular message written on the walls was “Keep the store just the way it is.”

Camper now uses this experimental approach as its philosophy and opens stores in two stages.  The first stage, the “Walk in Progress” is where customers are invited to contribute their thoughts and messages.  The finished store then takes on the unique characteristics of its neighbourhood, shaped by its customers.

Camper has successfully adopted a get-it-out-there/ship-it philosophy. Who would have thought you could do that with a half-finished retail shopfront?

Recently I had the privilege of hearing Seth Godin speak and a key message of his was “70% is the new perfect”.  This immediately embraces a ‘ship-it’, or iterative, mentality.  Get stuff done and ship it out, and then continually improve based on customer feedback and market expectations.

It is a powerful message – unless you are landing planes or saving lives – as perfectionism is often the enemy of execution.

Of course, embracing 70% as the new perfect is not a license to fail.  It doesn’t give us a mandate to put out shoddy work, or anything we are not proud of.  But on the other hand, clutching our ideas, products or strategies to our heart as we tinker away crafting and re-crafting each word or each line of code, not willing to share till it is perfect, is a fool’s game.  In their bestseller Rework, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson say it best: “You still want to make something great.  This approach recognises the best way to get there is through iterations.”

Please comment – I love hearing from you.

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10 Comments
  • Cindy Grass
    Reply

    Well I love this! Firstly its risky and bold, which is what we are looking for to encourage in our business, second it allows something to be created by the wider audience and third.you will get things to market or out the business a whole lot faster! There are numerous other advantages (and some disadvantages) but in a world of collaboration, this is the way to go! Thank you Yamini for sharing.

  • Jayaram Iyengar
    Reply

    I thought it was none other than BG who started the 70% perfect concept by releasing the imperfect Windows and charged the IT users the big $ and used their free debugging mass power to perfect the product and make it robust.

    It was also the iPhone 4 with lousy iMap product which decimated Apple sales in the beginning before Apple changed to embrace the GMaps and accept defeat. But almost a year was lost in that process.

    Having said that, it is always good to be responsible and make that 70% as perfect as possible until the balance 30% is reaches the same quality milestone standards.

    In my field we always do that in all D&C efforts – we release the 70% design with costing for the 100% of the project but find out that balance 30% design effort costs us 50% of the project cost to complete. Risk analysis become crucial to allow for that balance 30% “completion creep”.

    we need to be very much aware of this aspect.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Jay everything is about context isn’t it? Sometimes the 70% is perfect rule helps us get stuff out and co create with our customers, in other industries this would bitterly unacceptable. It is always a balance between quality and time.
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Jay
    Reply

    BTW occupational health and safety issues may cause the store to be shutdown including insurance company may not cover the risk, due to incomplete work. This may also result in loss of customers when the finished store opens!

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Hi Jay
      They have considered all that carefully as the bad publicity or costs of litigation would make the idea untenable. It is now part of their strategy so they are able to execute it with the pre requisites around safety and risk. Customers love it and feel ownership of putting their stamp on the stores. It is so different and of course risk and safety are the first things or barriers that would come to mind when embarking on a strategy like this.
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Sonia
    Reply

    Very inspired by this blog post. Finding the right balance between speed and quality is essential to be competitive. Thanks Yamini.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Thank you so much Sonia, it is a different way of thinking about business and has freed me up from a perfectionist streak that hampers execution!
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Sundar Rajamanickam
    Reply

    Wonderful to know how Camper turned a weakness into strength, a new strategy, won hearts of the locals and involved them in his success as their success from beginning. Good learning I would say. A great motivation to start implementing great ideas without hesitation.

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