I spent almost 4 years living in Portland, Oregon at the beginning of my career. I was young and was fortunate to be hired by a big software company there, so I worked full time and finished school full time. It was a ton of work! But it was awesome to be getting real world experience while I was getting my degree.

One of my good friends that I met in Portland had a little saying that became the mantra of our little friend group — “fake it till you make it”. We used to joke about it all the time because we honestly didn’t have a clue how to do many things we were supposed to do at our jobs. But we did know that everything was … figure-out-able. 

Some people get freaked out when they feel like they are out of their comfort zone. Others get defensive. Others shut down. But the people that succeed stay calm. They remember that with a little research and thoughtfulness, you can figure most things out. And, when all else fails, just fake it until you make it.

This attitude of fake it until you make it is critical to product development. Clearly, by fake it I don’t mean lie. What I mean is the attitude of experimentation that’s necessary to move forward and not get stuck in the trap of over-analyzing everything.

By adopting a culture of experimentation, companies give themselves permission to be wrong on the path to discovering the right ideas and direction.

Without embracing experimentation, your team will likely end up moving too slow. Why? Because you’ll end up trying to get everything perfect on the first try, which is not only expensive but also risky! But by releasing features frequently, you can get into the habit of “launch and learn” which allows you to course correct because you can’t fix what you don’t launch.

Does your team need to develop an attitude of experimentation? Do you need to give yourselves permission to be wrong? Do you need to do a little bit more faking it so you can make it?