Factors of Speed

Note to my future self…

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ways in which we can build products faster and more effectively. Today I came across this article, which I think presents a simple framework for starting to deconstruct this question.

The article’s basic premise is that speed should be built-in to the culture of your company as a habit and there are two basic levers that drive this habit:

  1. Making Decisions
  2. Executing Decisions

The idea being that if you can constantly optimize the speed at which you make decisions and your effectiveness executing those decisions then you should be able to build great products.

This is a good moment to remind myself that most decisions don’t deserve more than 10 minutes of intense debate especially if those decisions can be changed. You obviously don’t want to keep revisiting things because that’s inefficient but generally speaking it’s better to err on the side of speed.

A simple trick that the author suggests is asking your team and yourself “Why can’t this be done sooner?”. There are obviously physical constraints to how fast things can get done but in general we do tend to fall pray to Parkinson’s Law – “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

The author makes another good point of eliminating cognitive overhead. He mentions how a lot of times projects are held back by tiny details that are adding most of the complexity of a project or a key decision-maker that people have to refer back to.

Overall, the author provides a great argument for how to think about speed as a habit and I would encourage you to read the whole article if this is something that you’re interested in. Other than that, the key takeaway for me is that we should constantly ask ourselves these questions:

  1. What decisions do we have to make? How can we make them more quickly?
  2. How can we execute on our decisions more quickly? Can we get it done sooner?

That’s it.

Now back to work…