Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good, Fast, Cheap - Pick Two

I'm sure this concept has been around for a while, but I saw it for the first time today and really liked it. The premise is that projects are made of up these three elements, but you can only choose two of them. Let me spell it out.

Fast + Cheap = Bad
If you do a project really cheap and still want it to get done quickly you're going to suffer on quality. It just won't be a good finished product. A good example is of Monster Garage where they need to finish a project fast and cheap which is why the finished product is never really polished.

Good + Fast = Expensive
Now, if it has to be high quality but on a short time line, it's going to cost money. I run into this with my shirt business. Customers will run to me asking for a bunch of shirts in a short amount of time. My answer is yes, but it'll cost more because I have to rush, give up other things and work off-hours. Another example is American Chopper's OCC: they have nice bikes which they build fast, but you pay for it.

Cheap + Good = Slow
I must admit, this is my favorite. Lots of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects fall here. People don't want to spend the money to put someone on it full time or pay a professional. As a result it's done on free time which takes a very long time. Typically though, the products comes out pretty nice in the end. An example is Professor Joe King of Pacific University who made a model of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks. It took him 5 years and 110,00 toothpicks, but the end results is awesome.

So, given the project you're working on, what's the right mix? Knowing this simple framework will help you set your expectations and hopefully lead to more successful projects.

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