The Problem With Version 9.0 ~ why you should start with beta instead

Tom Morkes has a simple 3 step process for instigating any creative project (from business to blog to movement).  It’s:

1. Start
2. Finish
3. Ship

However, despite it being “almost annoyingly simple” very few people get around to starting, let alone completing their projects.

In this article Tom offers an explanation as to why that is and it resonated very strongly with me. I’ve seen this so many times with my own clients and in my own life, I just had to add it to my “Well Said” section.

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The Problem with Version 9.0

The problem I see time and time again (and experienced in my own life, time and time again), is that we start with version 9.0 of our idea.

What’s version 9.0?

  • It’s the perfect manifestation of your vision.
  • It’s the ideal version that everyone likes.
  • It’s the fabulous, brilliant idea you can’t believe doesn’t exist already – people would be crazy not to embrace it!

So what’s the problem with starting with version 9.0?

If you paid attention to those last three sentences, something should have stood out to you…something that wasn’t quite right.

  • The word perfect…does such a thing exist in this world?
  • The ideal version everyone likes…is there a single product on Earth that everyone likes?
  • The fabulous and brilliant idea people would be crazy not to support

You get the point.

Here’s the problem with version 9.0: it doesn’t exist and never will.

Not, at least, in the way you currently envision it…

The Dirty Truth of Version 9.0

I know what you’re thinking – what about Facebook and Harry Potter and all those other famous companies and productscertainly these things are “version 9.o’s.” 

These ideas may not have started at version 9.0, but they got there over time, didn’t they?

Here’s the thing:

The current iterations of all of these ideas are not only different than when they started, but are entirely different than the perfect, idealized version the original creators envisioned at the start.

Zuckerberg: “I just really want to see everyone focus on college and make a really cool college directory product”

Rowling: “I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book.”

And this is the dirty truth of version 9.0 that few founders, artists, and authors will admit (at least not at the outset):

The final version will never be the same as the original idea.

The Alternative to Starting with Version 9.0

The alternative to starting with 9.0 is to start in beta: with version 1.0.

In software development, beta is the point at which some features have been added and are ready for testing…but there are still bugs and issues that need to be worked out, so it’s not “final” product code just yet.

With the advances in technology and connectivity over the past 10 years (see: faster computers and faster internet), some pieces of software spend years in beta – intentionally.  Not because they wouldn’t be able to release a finished product sooner – they could – but because beta allows us to rapidly deploy and test code with users without worrying about things being perfect.

When we’re in beta, it’s a given that there will be bugs, problems, and rough edges.  And this is okay.

Start with Beta

There will be bugs, problems and rough edges no matter what you’re creating.

So what?

Start with beta.

For any idea – whether product, service, story, or art piece – there is a basic version, one without all the bells and whistles.

Start here.

If your idea only works if you have the perfect user interface connected to 10 million customers with 3d glasses…well, let’s be real: no one wants your idea anyway.

Start with beta.

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If you enjoyed this article I thoroughly recommend you click on the links to find out more about Tom Morkes and what he’s about. There’s lots of good stuff on his site including the chance to download free copies of his publications The Art of Instigating and The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want.

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