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Better, Faster, and Cheaper Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:16 AM


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I'd say that Chipotle Mexican Grill is good, fast, and cheap. However, as with any application, whether it be software or a restraunt, how the end user perceives "good" is more subjective than the more objective goals of fast and cheap.
Post #1567496
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:21 AM
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Nice article, but I think you missed the point of "good, fast, or cheap". You crossed the end result (the laptop) with the project (research, design and produce). The end product should be be better, faster, and cheaper, but in order to get to that point, the managers of the project still had to make trade offs to get there.

You could get the design done quickly by using part you already have tested (less time but slower end product) or go through the test process of new part (requires more time). If you want better parts tested and still done quickly, it requires more people (cost). If time is not the issues you reseach the best components for the price and use existing resources as time permits (slower but cheaper).

End products should always strive to be better, faster, and cheaper (at least to maintain). But when creating those end products, there will always be decisions that have to be made, and yes, trade offs to some extent (even if you have a superstar team).
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Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:39 AM
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Eric M Russell (5/5/2014)
I'd say that Chipotle Mexican Grill is good, fast, and cheap. However, as with any application, whether it be software or a restraunt, how the end user perceives "good" is more subjective than the more objective goals of fast and cheap.


I went to a Chipolte restaurant last year, and I tried their online ordering system. When I got to the restaurant the workers were confused. My online order was finally given to me after people who came in to the restaurant after me were out the door.
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Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:55 AM
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The triangle is meant to suggest that time, scope and money have a relationship. You can pick time and money as the controlling factors, but then you give up on scope - this is not the same thing as "good" although it's usually translated as such ("fast, good, cheap - pick two").

The laptop manufacturers are following the same rules - each new generation of hardware starts off hot, noisy, expensive and a battery hog, to get a little faster. There is then an iterative process to make them cooler, quieter and less expensive for the same speed.

Most projects don't get an iterative process. Why?

1. The client says "that triangle doesn't apply to my project because I'm special. Oh and by the way, can you add in this bit?"
2. The workers try to deliver all of the scope (including the new bit), resulting in the project being late and over budget.
3. The client says "well, those workers weren't very good, but my idea was sound."

Repeat until the client goes bankrupt.
Post #1567514
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 8:02 AM


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Robert.Sterbal (5/5/2014)
Eric M Russell (5/5/2014)
I'd say that Chipotle Mexican Grill is good, fast, and cheap. However, as with any application, whether it be software or a restraunt, how the end user perceives "good" is more subjective than the more objective goals of fast and cheap.


I went to a Chipolte restaurant last year, and I tried their online ordering system. When I got to the restaurant the workers were confused. My online order was finally given to me after people who came in to the restaurant after me were out the door.

Was it at least good and cheap?
Post #1567518
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 8:30 AM
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I'm sorry but I can't agree for a very simple reason. You are using the wrong mantra to argue a completely different mantra. So staying on exactly what you said, no, you can't have all three.

Now, to your ending point, yes it is possible to have good, quick and "cheaper than years ago", but that is a completely different thing. If I want to make banana bread, and I am out of bananas, I can substitute apples, but it is no longer banana bread.

Your underlying point is something I agree with though. Too often we hear "that's how we always do it". I can't count the number of times I wanted to slap some sense into someone who couldn't see that times had changed, things could and should be done differently. Fortunately slapping sense into someone isn't acceptable. Unfortunately, people who are unwilling to do what needs to be done are far more common than those of us who are willing to accept change.


Dave
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Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 8:59 AM
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Eric, as much as I like Chipotle (I do!), it would be more interesting to take the current state as a baseline and then challenge someone to do it better, faster, and cheaper. V1 is always hard, so many unknowns, and the triangle feels useful if not all perfect. Then you iterate and maybe the triangle just doesn't help you as much (or maybe I'm wrong), and then eventually you've wrung out the inefficiencies and only a game change of some sort gets you further.

It's certainly hard enough sometimes to agree on what better is. Cheaper can be complex if you do (or don't) factor in support costs, etc, for half baked solutions.




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Post #1567551
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 9:22 AM
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It's hard to argue against the rule as it applies to the management of resources towards the completion of multiple projects. Yes, project A can be done faster, but only at the expense of B and C or the expense of bringing in extra resources. Cheap is a project that can be done when there's time. Good is of course, relative, but often the difference not of good v bad, but of good enough v better (if there were more time). There is certainly a minimum standard that must be met.


Post #1567563
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 9:56 AM
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Sometimes, getting all three can be possible. For example, if code is available for reuse, and there are good processes and standards in place, the wheel won't constantly have to be re-invented. Not saying that it will happen all of the time, though.

Once, I saw a restaurant with a sign with that very statement. They are now closed, but if I ever see that again, I will point out to the manager that slow service means fewer meals served and less profit.
Post #1567582
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 10:43 AM
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Can one achieve all three? Maybe. Such maxims are rarely absolute -- few things in life are truly absolute. "It depends" is a highly overworked phrase. But the general truth here certainly seems borne out by looking at any significant body of data. For one thing, generally, it depends on the project. If the project is to write the numeral one on a piece of paper, pull out a piece of paper and write a one on it. It probably can't be done much better, faster, or cheaper, but that's not the type of project this sort of thing is usually applied to. On the other hand this type of thing usually has an implied "all other things being equal" and changing the situation by replacing the team with a set of superstars working for free would no doubt make it faster, cheaper and better, but that's really changing the "rules" in a way which the phrase was never intended to cover and which is unrealistic for the average project. Keeping an open mind is a good thing and designers should always be open to finding ways of pushing the envelope but it isn't realistic to just expect that to happen and the maxim applies more often than not. Rather than looking for ways of overcoming that general truth, one's time would probably be better spent ensuring that, unlike too many projects, the results aren't poor, slow and expensive.
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