What Do I Mean By Permanent Beta?

Updated: June 24, 2022 Reading Time: 3 minutes stage: in progress


I’ve wanted to write about the “Permanent Beta” mentality for a while, but I feared that I might just confuse and lose you without a proper introduction. So, allow me to explain what Permanent Beta is and what I mean by it.

Let me explain the change. The term “Permanent Beta” was coined by Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman in their book “The Startup of You”. Permanent Beta better encapsulates what this self-improvement freak wants to explore and write.

In tech and programming jargon, a product usually goes through different stages (named using greek letters) before it is released to the public:

  • Alpha: an app or service is in alpha when all that’s there is a prototype that’s very buggy (filled with errors) that might change considerably before its final release.

  • Beta: in this stage, the product is usable, and many times it is even released to a subset of the users who should expect issues and bugs in the product. At this stage, so-called “early adopters” should expect quirks and some problems, but the overall experience will not differ much from the final release.

Once a product comes out of the beta stage, no significant issues are expected, and all the initially planned features are there.

And “Permanent Beta”? Many products are released before reaching a “stable” state and always remain in constant iteration. Developers keep adding features, fixing issues, and continuously trying to move the product forward.

Apply this term to ourselves, and we get a perspective change. We can see ourselves differently, in constant evolution, endlessly improving.

We are not static systems frozen in time. We must continuously adapt, learn, and evolve. A fundamental aspect of humanness is creating new things and dreaming of better futures.

Or, as best-selling author Robert Greene has echoed in The Daily Laws:

“Your whole life therefore must be treated as a kind of apprenticeship to which you continuously apply your learning skills.”

Living in Permanent Beta is easier said than done.

We all have responsibilities, pressures, and limited time. It’s common to want to relax and grow comfortable once we reach a particular stage in our life. But if we grow too comfortable, we may lose our mental capacities, dreams, and aspirations.

We must be willing to compromise, to sacrifice even just a little to find time to think, learn new skills and hobbies, explore exciting and esoteric ideas, and marvel at reality.

My approach to Permanent Beta includes optimizing my lifestyle to follow my curiosity and put myself in a position where I’m always learning, always marveling at reality.

So I recently negotiated a 4-day week with my employer. Instead of getting more money for my work, I now get more free time, time that I can devote to exploring new things: reading books, writing, attending courses, and learning new practical skills (I just started wood carving).

I know not everyone can bargain for a reduced workweek, but whatever your situation, I believe a permanent beta mentality is a must to succeed and stay relevant and live a rich and enjoyable life.