What’s the best way to get something done? Set a deadline. How about getting something done faster? Set an earlier deadline.
Time compression is the concept behind Andrew Chen’s Seven Day Product.
Building products in a very short period of time makes you really boil down what the core mechanic is. What do I mean by core mechanic? I mean the thing that you’re doing 90% of the time. On YouTube that’s watching a video. On MySpace, that’s browsing from one profile to another, or possibly commenting/writing to other people.
A short deadline encourages you to trim to the barest essentials. You probably won’t launch after seven days, but you have a really good prototype. After that, you let some people bang on it, round the corners, add in necessary-but-not-core-features. The more obvious the better.
Andrew has been creating a seven day product the past week. He has some lessons learned about what it takes. Some projects just can’t make it, he says. I’d say that’s because the core mechanic, as he’s calling it, is too complex. It hasn’t been boiled down far enough.
Time compression can do wonders for productivity, creativity, and innovation. It’s easy to get trapped into not believing the arbitrary deadline. It’s important to remember that you only need to accomplish a very little bit during your seven days. All you need is a proof of concept, the important nugget at the center, the core mechanic.