The ShipIt Journal, Part 1

In the podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School, Seth Godin gave a guided tour to a group of highly-motivated early-stage entrepreneurs on some of the questions they will have to dig deep and ask themselves while they build up their business. Here are my takeaways from various topics discussed in the podcast episodes.

The ShipIt Journal, now in free PDF format

  • To use the ShipIt journal, we need to do this with everyone on the team at the same time. Everyone on the team uses the journal to track their projects, and it works the best when in print. It is very important to involve pen and paper because people act differently when they must write something down.
  • The purpose of the ShipIt journal is closely related to the idea of the dip. If we care enough to fill out the journal in pen and tell the truth on every page, there is a good chance we will ship our project because we committed. If we do not care enough to ship your project, we should not waste time to fill out the journal for this project.
  • The ShipIt journal helps the team to do the “thrashing” earlier on during the project, instead of later. “Thrashing” in the early phase costs much less to the organization than “thrashing” later in the project. Thrash at the beginning and then take people off the project until we launch.
  • Every project needs to be manageable, finite, time-dated and doable.
  • Every project needs to have the name of one person who oversees making this date happens.
  • We need to confront our fears by writing them down in the journal. All these emotions need to be brought up early, so we can be clear about what this project is about and what it is for.
  • Along the way to get this project to ship, we are going to have to make compromises. Every project needs to pick some edges that it stands for and those it does not care about.
  • Every project needs to decide who are we trying to please or who is our customer.
  • Every project has devil’s advocates. We write down the comments from devil’s advocates, so we do not need to discuss them again. “The Devil is doing fine, and he doesn’t need an advocate.”
  • We need to identify a list of people who can stop or disapprove the project, if any. Those people may introduce compromises into the project, so we need to stay aware of their opinions.
  • We need to write down and understand fully what a “perfect” project looks like. We also need to be 100% clear about what “good enough” looks like. Perfect should not be the same as the definition of good enough because perfect is the enemy of the good. We cannot be in the business of shipping on a regular basis if perfect is our only option.