It’s Worth Doing Poorly

I’ve learned a lot from Eric Reis and his book The Lean Startup. One of the most important things I’ve learned from him is something I’ve mentioned in past posts: the notion of the Minimum Viable Product (or MVP). It goes something like like this:

When you know that you’re supposed to start something specific, do it as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that you start something sloppy on purpose. It means that you don’t try to perfect it before you start it. You don’t know what “perfect” is. You don’t even know what “pretty good” is. You’ll only find out what works and what needs tweaked if you try it out with a small group of people who are interested enough in what you’re trying to accomplish, and open enough with you about what’s working and what’s not, to offer you quick, genuine, charitable feedback. It’s only this kind of “failure” that you can actually learn from. The big kind of failure is only good for creating depression and poverty.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 12.28.09 AM

Electric Power and Light Company, Ad, Life Magazine, May 1947, 4.

Seth Godin, an entrepreneurial guru, has said that “in the connection economy, ‘launching’ is overrated. It actually doesn’t matter at all.” If you build up to a grandiose “launch”—which you’ll inevitably push back further and further in order to get the timing right and the thing right—you’re sinking tons of energy into something you aren’t even sure will be profitable. You’re aiming with all your might at a target that you don’t even know is there. And you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

The old saying is “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Well…

…eventually. But you won’t know what “doing well” even looks like until you’ve risked doing it poorly (as someone has recently said).

So when it comes to your spiritual leadership, keep your spiritual thinking cap on. Brainstorm new ideas. Read lots of books and blogs. Think lots about your local context. And run all this by the Holy Spirit, asking for wisdom and guidance. But once you sense that there’s something you’re supposed to do, don’t perfect it.

Do it.

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