Culture of “Done”

Posted By Phillip Cave
Software Development Engineer

Simplicity. Why do we, in general, get so hung up on getting stuff done?

There are a few things that I wish everyone could experience. One of them is driving on the autobahn in a Porsche 911 at over 200km/hour (or, if you are like my colleague Dave Kelley, an Audi R8). If that wish came true, then I would not be stuck behind slow drivers in the fast lane. Just because the speed limit “suggests” 65 or 75 does not mean I want to be behind you wishing you would stop hogging the far-left passing lane. (The key word is PASSING, and I mean pass within the next hundred feet, NOT miles; pass and move over, don’t police me. Thus, I love the autobahn. Germans know how to drive.)

Another wish is for all people in the software world to experience living and succeeding at a product company startup.

Like driving on the autobahn, startup companies must move. Startups must get stuff done—or they will not be around to get stuff done.

A guy that “gets it” is Bre Pettis. Bre, one day with a pal, wrote a blog entitled the “Cult of Done.” This article is about the spirit of that blog.

Why I like the list on that blog: It speaks to the lean thinking behind “agile,” and how every successful startup (lean or not) must operate—including Microsoft, back in the day, when it was just the 11 of them. I like to imagine that when Microsoft was just 11 people (funny to think about right?) they moved. They created a lot of knowledge with trial and error. They allowed themselves to be vulnerable, and put themselves out there to deliver a quality product quickly. They relied a lot on daily communication and feedback. I imagine they had a lot of in-depth design meetings on paper and a chalk board (no white boards then, right? Just kidding!). They were brave. I like to believe that my image of them is probably quite accurate.

Similarly to what the original 11 must have felt, I loved my experience being dev #3 at a small startup company. It taught me the value of getting product out the door—no matter what. Of iterating on ideas by quickly trying things, keeping some and throwing a lot away so that we could get more stuff done. We could not afford to procrastinate or wait for a one person to design the perfect system. No such thing. We moved. We coded. We tried things out together. We got feedback from our internal industry SMEs and customers. When one idea failed, we tried a variant of that idea until it worked. That company is successful to this day because of our efforts and our drive to get stuff done, no matter what.

Bravery. The question I have for you is this: Are you brave enough to NOT let anything—or any job title—hinder you from getting stuff done, no matter what it takes? Are you brave enough to take a chance on an idea and work with your team to get your hands dirty? Follow the link to the blog and look at the list one more time. Can you live this list? If not, why not? What is stopping you?

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