How well does it have to work before you’re willing to launch it?  How flawless does it have to be to move from the drawing board to doing it?  What’s your culture’s tolerance for ‘good enough’?

I listened again to Marissa Mayer’s (Google’s VP of Search) talk over at Educators Corner (sponsored by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program).  One of Google’s 9 notions of innovation is that they launch early and often in small beta tests before releasing new features widely.  Listening to Mayer’s talk is a constant reminder that getting all the kinks and bugs out, making it perfect before the launch is just not Google’s style.  Instead, they’ve learned to run lots of smaller tests, getting their ideas in the hands of users, and then tweaking them to make them even better. BusinessWeek Online featured a web version of her talk in June.  You can read my summary in Champions of Innovation.

There is a facinating quote on the willingness to launch before perfecting from David Kelley of IDEO in Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense.  He reminded his staff that one of the guiding philosophies of IDEO is that "enlightened trial and error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects."  If you’ve never heard David you can listen to a recent podcast he did with iinnovate here.

Enlightened trial and error.  Gotta love it!

So, what’s your culture’s tolerance for ‘good enough’?

Enlightened Trial and Error