Creating great software is not like winning the hundred-meter dash once, right when it counts (even though that’s an impressive feat). It’s more like winning the decathlon — three Olympics in a row. One of the most persistently difficult and elusive skills that supports building great software is the ongoing need to manage the delicate balance between pragmatism and panache. The extent to which you successfully achieve the right balance can be summed up with one word: quality.
Throughout the software development process, all of the variables are constantly changing: your velocity, your priorities, insights from testing and research, and so on. Great software projects are never really finished — they are deprecated. I wrote about this recently in our QORE Handbook:
“A high-quality product has the right mix of pragmatism and panache. Usually, when a product feels weak (assuming product-market fit isn’t at issue), pragmatism and panache are out of balance. Maybe the product is undifferentiated or too flashy. Ultimately that imbalance harms the experience for our users, and quality suffers accordingly.
At Postlight, we believe in constantly earning permission from our clients and users to do amazing things. We do that by nailing the basics, doggedly — and pragmatically — ensuring that the software we make is first and foremost stable, fast, accessible, and intuitive. If it’s slow, it is bad software. A snappy, stable experience is the mandatory prerequisite for razzle-dazzle.”
Recently, Gina, Chris, and I talked through pragmatism and panache in detail. Our wide-ranging conversation covered all the topics that are guaranteed to give product owners in any industry sweaty palms:
- The difference between “QA” and quality
- The ever-looming bogeyman of “the MVP”
- The right way to draw inspiration from the landscape
- When and why to be flashy or not
- The role of content strategy
Simply put, “every decision you make that doesn’t put your users at the center of what you’re doing reduces the quality of the thing that you’re building.” Listen to the full episode:
For more about ensuring quality while building complex software, check out Postlight’s QORE Handbook, an in-depth guide to clarifying questions for digital leaders making great software.