You can’t always do less

David Heinemeier Hansson seems to be very fond of his philosophy Less is More. Recently he wrote about it again: You can always do less. I mostly agree with the spirit of the article. Some of my concerns have been already voiced by the commenters (about things being not so sweet in the customer-is-always-right world). I also particularly like this sentence:

Most software has a tiny essence that justifies its existence, everything after that is wants and desires mistaken for needs and necessities.

But I just couldn’t leave without a comment the last paragraph of it:

For every 1 day estimates of a task, there’s a simpler version of that you can do in 3 hours, and an even simpler still you can do in 30 minutes. Back yourself into a corner and these versions will vividly appear before your eye. You can always do less.

Well, maybe this works for DHH and his rock-star über-skilled coders at 37signals. But in reality, companies don’t hire only über-skilled people. Some don’t hire them at all. Most companies end up with a bunch of people of varying skills, varying motivation, and varying devotion. People that are going to have their worse and better days, other things to do, news to read, flicks on Youtube to watch etc.

So when they do something in 3 hours instead of 1 day, they will cut corners: skip unit tests, cover only optimistic scenario, forget refactoring. Just copy-paste something that works in similar way then maul it with your keyboard until it appears to work. After a couple of features done this way your app’s WTF factor skyrockets like, well, a rocket in the sky.

"My philosophy isn't for everybody" -- DHH says.

"My philosophy isn't for everybody" -- DHH says.

I’ve seen that a lot of times. Just say no, kids. 37signals’ philosophy isn’t for everybody, as DHH stated very assertively many times. They are in a luxury situation of having successful products and a lot of devoted, paying clients. But in the world where customer is always right most of the times you just can’t do less if you want to get paid.

In the other news: 37signals just discovered that you can actually work… in teams. What’s even cuter, most of the commenters seem to think that this is ‘cool’, ‘interesting’ or even ‘exciting’. The commenters are looking forward to hear how it works out for them!

It also seems that until recently, 37signals’ projects had the truck factor of 1:

In the past each person at 37s has been pretty isolated. Everyone pretty much worked on their own own project.

Just wondering what will they discover in 2011? Waterfall process?


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