What needs to be true?

I reconnected with a CEO recently that launched their business about three years ago. We chatted about the long, harrowing lead-up to their first product launch. The list of things to do was long, the road ahead was unclear, and there was no end to the todo list in front of the team. At some point during our strategy sessions I asked what needs to be true to launch? Suddenly going through the list of 100+ things became a lot easier.

Does thing X need to be completed to launch? “No”. Great 99 to go.

Do we have to have logo and image collateral ready? “No.” Great 98 to go.

Do we need advanced features and tools for day 1 users? “No.” Great 97 to go.

Do we need to ship the next sprints worth of items? “No.” Great 96 to go.

And so on…

We went on like this until we had less than 10 things that NEEDED to be true to launch. These were very different than the things they WANTED to be true on launch day, which they simply wouldn’t have the time to deliver at the quality bar they held.

It turns out this focus on doing less better carried through to today in many parts of the organization. If you want to cross the finish line, you have to know where it is. When launching a software product, and the constant improvement cycle that comes with it, you have to decide and commit to that launch line. The ability to ask what needs to be true to launch provides that clarity, and identifies where the line is.

Finally, it is my belief that shipping publicly = more shipping publicly. Or to understand it even better, the longer it takes to ship – the longer it takes to ship. It has been my experience that this is true for the best teams, and getting something out there is most helpful.

So the next time something feels far away from shipping, or things are feeling delayed, this exercise can be very helpful.

So I often ask “what needs to be true for X to happen?” and now you know why.

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