Sahil Lavingia is a young developer who's made a lot of impressive projects, and along the way, he's learned a lesson that a lot of perfectionists can benefit from: Sometimes, whatever works is good enough. That doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't strive to do things well (even things you tell yourself you suck at), but you shouldn't let perfection get in the way of actually doing something. Here's his take:
Photo by David Lytle.
I have found myself constantly uttering the words "whatever works". I say it daily, and think it much more often than that. It has a sort of negative connotation: as long as it works, go with it (even though it may really just be a duct taped solution). But duct tape works!
Small shops and startups have one really big thing going for them: speed. I take pride in the fact that we can build stuff quickly. If it works, it works. If you can get 95% of the way there, in 5% of the time, you'll have months of time to improve your product before any of your competitors or incumbents can react with real product changes. And if you do it well, you can switch-out the backend in the future, without your users noticing.
It's come to the point where if I don't feel I'm hacking together a solution and asking myself what the heck I'm doing I'll take a step back and figure out if I should just go ahead and launch it.
For example, Dayta. I built the first version of Dayta in a week. In later versions, I had to rewrite the entire database solution I had built (think one large array of objects for the entire app… yeah, seriously, but it worked!) and it took tens of hours. But because I hacked together a solution earlier, I was able to complete the app in a week. And more importantly, have the time later on to improve the product later while constantly gaining feedback from tens of thousands of users. "Usage is like oxygen for ideas" - Matt Mullenweg
I suck at a lot of things. Programming is one of these things.
I like designing my ideas, and have the ability to duct-tape it enough to make it work well enough. Sometimes I even have the persistence to follow through and launch something. It looks good from the outside, but behind the scenes my code is atrocious and hacky.
But it works. And users will never know the difference.
Whatever Works [Sahil Lavingia]
Sahil is just a 19-year old kid based in San Francisco. He's working on Gumroad, which makes selling stuff as easy as sharing a link. Previously, he was on the founding team of Pinterest and built Turntable.fm for iPhone. You can follow him on Twitter here.