Nothing guides you better than reality

You assume that solving the problem will be really hard, so you dream up a fancy solution to solve it. But, often you can find an easier and quicker way to solve the problem by making some compromises.

Consider any problem request as a negotiation: We can build the full solution, and it will take multiple weeks before it’s done, or we can build a simplified version in a few days. By taking the shortcut, you don’t solve some aspects of the problem, but you may get most of the way.

Having this negotiation puts you in the position to make a choice that balance the effort spent on solving a particular problem versus other stuff you have on your plate. With the simple version, you can afford more resources to refine the solution.

Start with the simple version and see how that works out. If you get 60% of the way, you will be in a much better position to decide whether the last 40% will matter to your customer.

When you get to test the simplified version in reality, you may discover aspects of the problem that you didn’t think about before. This will guide you to build a better product than you get by starting with the complex solution. You’ll also learn if it’s worth investing more time and resources in building a more complex solution.

Props to Jason and Nathan for surfacing this topic on their Work in Progress show, which I highly recommend.