There is a common problem by any product development face: the nature of the product itself. There are two path to describe the development timeline:
When launching big a product many companies make the mistake to accumulate so much technical debt. Like a great house with a dirty backyard where all the mess is piled. When the people move to this house the amount of garbage does not get smaller. It increases.
Another error made by launching big is that it takes more time to validate the first hypotheses about the product. Testing with some users before shipping the product can help to get some insights about what is about to hit hardly the product when it gets live to a bigger audience.
But make sure you validate your hypothesis and build the product for the big launch together with your customers (small launching!)
If you are not able to test regularly, any scenario of launching big will present risks. If the product is built in short time the mess is accumulated faster in the backyard.
If developing the product takes longer, while taking care of not piling technical debts, the garbage will start to grow in your garbage later when the non-tested hypotheses start to create unplanned work.
Both scenarios get messy
Any single iteration or feature in a product must create value for the business and for the customers. It should add beauty and functionality to the house. It might keep clean the backyard. Any time the hypotheses are not validated more broken furniture is added to the mountain of debts.
There is an excellent article from Intercom about this topic with an accurate analogy: Start with a cupcake.
The Galls Law says:
A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.
So, launch big and take the risk to fail by not getting your hypotheses validated.
By launching small you build what is needed. You keep it lean. An ugly duck can always become a beautiful swam. If you launch small, then you have the chance to validate properly with your hypotheses and created proper Feedback Loops where decisions can easily be made.
Applying the Feedback Loops and taking your product as a System (the concept from Systems Thinking) will help you to iterate on your product easily and divide to conquer, solve your technical debts and keep not only the house but the backyard polished.
If you launch small and it gets success, the product will suddenly start to grow. An alternative to launching big is launching many times small to satisfy the big picture. By launching big there is no time to think what went wrong and it will create a nasty stack of tasks that should not be there.
It’s up to you. You can live in a huge falling-apart house with a dirty backyard and be too busy repairing things or just keep everything organized and clean.
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