Are You in Permanent Beta?

November 26 2012

Technology companies sometimes keep the beta test phase label on software for a time after the official launch to stress that the product is not finished so much as ready for the next batch of improvements. Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon concludes every annual letter to shareholders by reminding readers, as he did in his first annual letter in 1997, that “It’s still Day 1” of the Internet and of Amazon.com:

“Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency.”

In other words, Amazon is never finished: It’s always Day 1. For entrepreneurs, finished is an F-word. They know that great companies are always evolving.

Finished ought to be an F-word for all of us. We are all works in progress. Each day presents an opportunity to learn more, do more, be more, grow more in our lives and careers. Keeping your career in permanent beta forces you to acknowledge that you have bugs, that there’s more QA (quality assurance) testing to do on yourself, that you will need to adapt and evolve. But it’s still a mind-set brimming with optimism because it celebrates the fact that you have the power to improve yourself and, more important, improve the world around you.