The Big Lie of “Good, Fast, Cheap”

One of them is never optional, and sometimes you can’t even pick two.

Benek Lisefski
The Startup
Published in
4 min readSep 9, 2021


Surely you’ve heard it before. The iron triangle of service: good, fast, cheap — pick two. You can never have all three, as the saying goes.

Venn diagram of good, fast, cheap — pick two

Cheap + Fast = low quality
Good + Cheap = too slow
Fast + Good = expensive

I have so many problems with this popular triangle of choice. It’s built on a foundation of fallacies. One of the choices is pointless, and another doesn’t even exist.

“Good” shouldn’t be optional

Whether you’re developing a product, hiring an accountant, or just fixing your kitchen plumbing, who would intentionally choose “low quality”?

Good is the only side of this triangle that should never be sacrificed because a quality result is always expected when something is worth doing at all.

If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
— Proverb

If you like shitty work, you’re spoilt for choice. Fast + Cheap is very desirable if you don’t care about the quality of the result. But who puts in the time, effort, and expense of doing anything without caring about the outcome?

Good work is enduring, while cheap work performs worse and must be re-done more frequently. Good work is less costly in the long run.

This means the only real choice is between Good + Fast (expensive) or Good + Cheap (slow). And I would argue that one of those options is more of a dream than a reality.

Is it possible to have “good” and ”cheap”?

Good work takes time. It means considering all the possibilities and never cutting corners with the details. It often means using more expensive materials or tools. It requires more training and experience. So it’s rightly expected that good work is expensive.

Where did we get the idea that you can have “good” and “cheap” at the same time?

Yes, you can slow down the pace of the work so that you get the same result in a longer duration, but that doesn’t reduce the overall



Benek Lisefski
The Startup

I’m a UX/UI designer from Auckland, New Zealand. Writing about freelancing & business for indie designers & creatives at