“Move Fast and Break Things” has become a popular catchphrase in the tech industry. It’s a call to action to take risks and move quickly, even if it means making mistakes along the way. While this mindset can lead to breakthroughs and disruptive innovations, it’s important to recognize that moving fast without proper planning and investment can also lead to disastrous consequences. You need to invest in order to move fast so that when you break things, you break the right things.
You first need to invest in the definition of “fast”. Different companies have different goals and metrics for success, so it’s important to define what “fast” means for your organization. This includes setting measurable goals, defining success metrics, and creating a roadmap for achieving those goals. You also need to understand the regulatory landscape around your business so you know what you can be riskier with and where you need to move slower. For instance, a healthcare startup generally needs to take fewer risks when it comes to user data but can take more risks when it comes to the UI. By investing in the definition of “fast,” you can ensure that you’re moving quickly in the right direction.
Investing in systems and tools is also essential for moving fast. Without the proper tools, moving too quickly can lead to significant regressions and bugs that could damage your reputation and bottom line. Tools such as observability, error recovery, and automated testing can help reduce the risk of making mistakes and breaking things. This is a balance though since if you put all your eggs in the automated testing basket, you will either move slower or end up with a false sense of confidence from your tests. Be deliberate with your decisions around what needs 100% test coverage and where a simple smoke test will suffice. By investing in these systems and tools, you can move quickly while minimizing the risk of failure.
Investing in people is another critical factor. You need to have people on your team who aren’t afraid to move quickly and can help others quickly make informed decisions. You need to empower people to make decisions by creating systems for decision-making, risk-taking, and accountability without blame.
Moving fast isn’t just about speed; it’s about agility, acceleration, and maximum efficiency. To me, that means rather than moving fast, you are moving with all deliberate haste – intentionally moving fast with precision, rather than just for the sake of speed. This mindset allows you to move quickly while staying focused on your goals and making informed decisions.
All deliberate haste means you balance the risks with the rewards. For example, if you’re operating in a highly regulated industry, moving too quickly could lead to regulatory violations that could damage your reputation or result in fines. Similarly, if you’re working on mission-critical systems, moving too quickly could result in system failures that could put lives at risk. That’s why it’s important to balance the need for speed with the need for caution and risk management.
A team that moves with all deliberate haste is one that works well together. It knows where it succeeds and fails since it has observability and can encourage experimentation and risk-taking. Since it knows its successes, it can celebrate failures as learning opportunities and create an environment where people feel safe to speak up and share their ideas.
Ultimately, the key to success is moving with all deliberate haste – intentionally moving fast with precision, purpose, and agility through your own definition of fast and the investment into systems, tools, and people
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