“Good enough”

How do you decide when something is “good enough” to ship?

This question came up in the Ultraworking Work Gym this morning.

Firstly, I’d turn the question around: What goal are you actually trying to achieve? Do you think this is likely to do that?

I’d say that for anything you’re doing where the question could come up, it’s worth writing down beforehand:

  • what you’re actually trying to achieve
  • which factors will determine whether it achieves its goals
  • which factors are irrelevant to whether it achieves its goals
  • what has to be right first time and what could be improved later

For a lot of the things you do, you will have multiple goals that you’re trying to hit. E.g. if you’re studying then you might want to learn the material and achieve a particular grade. Those goals are correlated but not identical.

And you’ll likely have some highly subjective goals. “I feel proud of this” and “I enjoy working on this” are perfectly valid goals to aim for.

There is no platonic ideal of “good enough”, but nor is it totally arbitrary. The question is, “good enough for what?” If you don’t know what you’re aiming for then you’ll never know whether it’s good enough.