Move Fast and Break Things is Not Dead

Move Fast, Fix Shit, and Learn Faster

The Quantified VC
Sep 15, 2018 · 9 min read
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The first poster printed in the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory said “Done is Better than Perfect.” It was followed closely by “Move Fast and Break Things,” and “What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?” (Image: Facebook)

If hard work is the key to success, most people would rather pick the lock. — Claude McDonald

“Moving fast and breaking things” is at the heart of the startup philosophy of being scrappy. Facebook was a notable proponent and adorned every one of its offices with the such posters — as a celebration of the hacker mindset and a reminder that the college kids were running the social show.

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If (the database throws an error) { do nothing }

The concept “technical debt” in software design and development comes from Agile development guru Ward Cunningham. He used it to describe what happens when you rush to ship software without applying what you’ve learned about the problem you’re trying to solve.

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You have to avoid debt because debt makes the system more fragile. You have to increase redundancies in some spaces. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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“debt will tear us apart” by Ruth Enyedi on Unsplash
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xkcd

Because when you build something that you don’t have to fix 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built. — Mark Zuckerberg

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Image: Facebook

The startups that moved fast and broke things have been egged on by return-hungry venture capitalists and their companion motto, “growth at any cost.”

In order to become a company that transcends the mobile platform wars, Zuckerberg realized that you can’t move too fast and some things aren’t worth breaking. Theranos, Zenefits, and Uber learned it the hard way.


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“Hydra” by Sanskarans on DeviantArt

Crucially, if antifragility is the property of all those natural (and complex) systems that have survived, depriving these systems of volatility, randomness, and stressors will harm them. They will weaken, die, or blow up. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

But when you are building mission-critical products, such as a space shuttle that people will have to rely on to keep themselves alive, or products that absolutely must work every time or it could cost operators millions of dollars (Knight Capital is a good recent example of this), or when your business relies on a small number of big customers, you should move slowly and steadily and test the crap out of every change before releasing. Broken products scare people off, which in turn damages your reputation and tanks your business.

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Image: Black Swan Farming
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The Quantified VC

Written by

building the future with open source robotics | devil's advocate & intergalactic mathemagician | venture capital & startups 🔢 calculus > statistics

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +668K people. Follow to join our community.

The Quantified VC

Written by

building the future with open source robotics | devil's advocate & intergalactic mathemagician | venture capital & startups 🔢 calculus > statistics

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +668K people. Follow to join our community.

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