The accepted belief is that startups should move quickly and err on the side of speed rather than quality. This makes sense. Startups are so risky that they won’t fail due to making a few mistakes but will fail if they get out maneuvered and out innovated. The big advantage startups have is speed and that needs be leveraged.

The one caveat I’d make is that every company, big and small, should have mission critical elements that need to be maintained when pushing new features and updates. I was reminded of this last week when an unnamed corporate feedback startup sent out the private one-on-one notes people jotted down in preparation for their meeting to everyone within the company. This was a huge betrayal of trust and ruined the good will people had for the company and the product. If they weren’t able to get this basic piece right how are they expected to do the rest? Every company has these mission critical components that everyone needs to be aware of and great care must be taken to ensure they work before every deploying or change. In the adtech case it’s serving ads - if ads aren’t working then publishers aren’t making any money and losing money during each impression. For cloud productivity applications it’s critical that they don’t lose your data - downtime is annoying but at least you can switch to another task while they get back up. If you lose your data and documents you have to figure out exactly what you lost and decide whether it’s worth recreating. Everyone in the company should know what these these mission critical components are and it’s everyone’s job to make sure they’re working as expected since failure carries existential risk for the customer relationship. It’s unlikely that a single bad event will ruin things but as soon as it becomes a pattern it’s likely that that customer will be lost forever and never return due to the faulty first impression.

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