February 8, 2017
We are all in the rush these days. As founders, we want to literally do more faster all the time. As we rush, we may get a lot done, but sometimes we don’t do things right. We forego quality in exchange for speed and quantity.
Yet it is really important to pay attention to correctness and quality. When we rush and make mistakes, we then have to go back and fix them. When we go faster and miss things, we have to go back to fix them, and that usually takes more time.
It pays off to spend a bit more time and get things right.
Over the years, I’ve adopted a few simple principles to make sure that the work I produce is quality work. I learned these principles as a software engineer and now apply them to all things I do. These principles are: simplicity, completeness and iteration.
Always make things as simple as possible.
Ask – what is the simplest most straightforward way to get something done? How can I describe something, or make something happen in the simplest possible way?
For example, is the email or blog post I wrote simple? Can I take away sentences or words to make it simpler? Or when working with founders and thinking about their business, ask if the founders articulate their vision in the simple way? Can we simplify? Or is our process for matching founders with investors simple? What can we do to simplify and be more effective?
By actively asking this question, you focus on and achieve simplicity.
Secondly, ask if what you created is complete. Sometimes things that are too simple don’t fully solve the underlying problem. As Einstein pointed out, things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Look at your document, presentation, task, piece of code and ask – does it satisfy fully what you’ve set out to do? Is it complete?
Iteration is the third key. Look over your work and check again for simplicity and completeness. Like a great editor, revise it and make it better. Like a great sculptor, refine and touch up. Iterate until you can neither take anything away (simplify) or add anything (make it more complete).
When this happens you are finished, at least for now. Tomorrow or even a year from now things may change and you may need to iterate and improve again.
By applying these simple principles, by looking critically at your work, by polishing it a bit more, by asking if it makes sense, if it is simple, and complete, by looking at your work from an outside perspective you get to a much higher quality.
It takes a little bit more effort to learn and put this into practice. But once you master it, it will just become a second nature. The speed and quality will be happening automatically. Quality doesn’t have to take more time, it just needs the right approach.
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