Optimize for perfection: Optimize for speed

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Today I read and stumbled Tony Scheider’s In praise of continuous deployment: The WordPress.com story and when I recovered from reading the numbers I said a quite little thank you to Staff for all the work they do behind the scenes.

The other day we passed product release number 25,000 for WordPress.com. That means we’ve averaged about 16 product releases a day, every day for the last four and a half years! How is this possible and why do we release software in this way?

I’m not a technically inclined person; I’m just a person with a passion for blogging.   I have wordpress.com free hosted blogs and also a wordpress.org install. It’s so easy and breezy being a wordpress.com blogger where Staff do all the geeky stuff for us. But my stomach lurches when I see yet another one click update for me to attend to on my install while muttering my mantra: “Don’t forget to deactivate plugins first!”

What I gained from this article was a clear understanding of the two approaches ie:  Optimize for perfection or Optimize for speed (continuous deployment),  and a recognition that I embraced the former years ago, without even exploring the latter.

But a new breed of companies are doing things very differently. Instead of optimizing product launches to go as perfectly as possible, they optimize to have them go as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t read this article yet, then please do.  Toni  provides 5 reasons why the continuous deployment model works in very clear language that us non techy types can understand.

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6 thoughts on “Optimize for perfection: Optimize for speed

  1. Not that it does me much good on my blog, LOL, I do have a tendency to fiddle and tweak with things that have my name on them until I just can’t stand it anymore.

    I used to be an engineering/field service/quality control tech for a company that made automatic control systems for the concrete industry. My perfectionism was such a thorn in the side of sales and design departments that my boss had to tell me, “Mak, if we waited until everything was perfect, we’d never ship anything!” We compromised (?!?!) by having me also write all their operator’s manuals!

    But I agree with you. A temporary bug in the WordPress software isn’t likely to result in a serious injury. :-)

    1. I have had struggles with perfectionism in the past but I don’t these days. Then I experienced angst. Well, I’m far more relaxed now. I know whatever is made can be fixed so I have developed patience.

      You’re parting remark made me chuckle. ;-)

  2. I read the article. Yes, my opinion is going to strongly biased like a few others here ’cause it’s coloured by my job experiences where I was the lead person launching major software roll-out plus also finished web products by fee-based databases from publishers with certain features and customization to fit the organization’s need.

    The product development mode that he describes as continuous, incremental code fixing, product refinement after major product release and launch for customers only works if:

    a) the software developer does have a strong reliable development team
    b) on the customer side, that the customer has time and patience to discover, report and do a work around /wait for the fix. That there is a good support team. AND the volunteer support team. Reall,y WordPress might be shocked/abit undone business-wise, if their volunteer support team left the Forums. ;)

    For b), it works for individual bloggers and people who work with software by customizing it, etc. It does not create great reception for the next secondary tier of customers which are those who are occasional users, or just readers/commenters. They have no patience, because software customization is not a core part of their job.

    So the business strategy sounds sexy and powerful, necessary for tiny fixes. But it is less headache if a product was released 80-90% perfect. Or more.

    I realize in today’s highly competitive world of technological innovation has been ramped up for business survival but the end-user has other work to do. Not just customize software and help their internal organizational users.

    For WordPress this product development works because the product is simpler than other software products/types.

  3. You know I have been walking around for years insisting that nothing ought to be released until it was “perfect”. Well since we have been getting so many new themes and we members have been conferring about them in our new Themes Forum I changed my mind. I also clicked through and read a couple of continuous deployment articles that Toni linked to. Granted we don’t want some products to be released until they are safe and presumed “perfect” and we have examples of where that failed. Baby cribs, airplanes, automobiles do come to mind, but in the world of blogging software I can see why continuous deployment makes good sense.

  4. Honestly, I’ve never given these things much thought, but I agree that Toni does do an excellent job of making sense of it all. Thanks for posting this.

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