Good To Great: The Iterative Process


I gotta admit it, the first time I heard it, I thought it was the most pretentious word in tech-speak I had ever heard. To be more honest, I really had no idea what it meant.

So I looked it up:

Iteration - a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result.

Seemed to make sense.

When you are creating something from scratch, you want it to stand the test of time, whether it be a banana bread recipe, a home you are building, or a website you are creating; naturally, you want to create the best product. I call that pride of ownership.

The problem that generally arises is you have hired someone to help you build your creation, a vendor. In the contract you created and signed, the original scope of work was create "x" and then as the building process continues, you see that your creation can be improved if you add "y." Why would you continue to produce "x" if by adding "y" you would make the end product better?

By adding "y" you have iterated.

The problem that arises is how then vendor feels about your iteration.

The vendor does not want to deviate from their original scope of work because they have based their budget and scheduling on that. Now, they don't want to go ahead and build you something that you don't want, but, at the same time, they did base their numbers on your original scope of work.

So what happens now?

If you are smart, you work it out.

When building houses, it is called a "change order." Happens all the time. If you were lucky enough to have a contract with the homebuilder, it most likely spoke of "change orders" and at what rate they would be billed. If you did not have a contract, you might be a little less thrilled. General contractors love change orders that are not addressed in the contract because they can name their price. And they kind of have you over the barrel because you want, ney need, the home to continue being built, but the builder probably won't continue until the change order is signed.

This puts you in a precarious position.

In hindsight, you would have wanted that in your original contract. But the vendor is not simply going to let you write in any amount of iteration. It is probably best to be up front with your vendor at the beginning and request you go to a "market" or hourly rate on the project. This way it is a win-win situation for creator and vendor. The vendor gives you a lower rate for presumably more work (your iterations), in exchange, you give the potential for more work and cover yourself by having the contract a little more open-ended.

In sum, a creator must have the ability to iterate in order to end up with the best possible product. It simply must be done with thought and respect given to those helping you create. An unhappy vendor will only lead to a deficient work product.

And iteration will definitely take you from good to great.

This post originally appeared on The Whole Magilla and was written by Chris Meyer, co-founder of

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