·  2 min read

Done Is Better Than Perfect

When I joined Facebook in 2012, “culture” wasn’t a topic every company cared about. Facebook’s was pretty unique at the time.

At it’s core, Facebook’s culture - in the early days at least - was hacker culture. Back then “hacker” had a negative connotation, no doubt influenced by the 1995 movie “Hackers” (a box office flop).

Here’s a picture of the cast trying to look edgy:

Cast of the 1995 movie-flop "Hackers"

Zuck wanted “hacker” to earn a positive connotation, more about continuous learning and iteration, and less about bad things that could happen by taking that approach.

Facebook’s S-1 letter contained a section dedicated to explaining “The Hacker Way.“

’Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.‘

”Done is better than perfect” was the first poster from Facebook’s Analog Research Lab I saw on my first day. It’s still one of my favourites. You might notice it’s a play on the white t-shirt from the picture above ☝️

Done is better than perfect poster, from Facebook's Analog Research Lab

I’ve always loved it because it’s not some makey-uppy corporate mantra. It’s actionable, focused, and grounded in a working style that emerged from the early days of Facebook. Creating the most value for the most people, as quickly as possible, is the objective. Pleasing all of those people at once isn’t. Value and pleasure are not the same thing.

It’s also a different way of saying “something is better than nothing.” Perfectionism, a form of procrastination, has killed or negatively impacted more products than I care to think about.

”Done” gets you fast feedback. “Perfect” doesn’t. Which would you prefer?

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