Engineering good-enough websites.

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When examining stagecraft up close, the set paint seems sloppy. The props are coarse and crude. Stage workers apply low-cost, egg-base, tempera paint using cheap, large sponges. No refined brush work here.

Yet, from the theater seats, the stage appears like textural magic, even fantastic illusion. It seems more real than real. But it’s only intended to last through several performances. Then dismantled and reused or discarded – a temporary adaptive system.

Perfection requires too much.
Stagecraft trickery only requires 20 percent of the energy, time, and resources as perfection. The biggest challenge is knowing when we’ve arrived at good enough. There’s a creative trap creative people fall into; when end result fall short of how they imagined mentally. They don’t know when to stop.

The dreamer becomes disappointed.
Yet, an amazed audience admires the results. We never know about the original creative vision. The disillusioned artist hates the final work or views it as incomplete and unfinished.

Click for larger view.
Click for larger view.

Perfection is 220-percent maximization.
Perfection is overkill. Good-enough optimization requires less effort. Pareto’s principle says roughly 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of the investment. It can, also, refer to measuring creative efficiency – or prolific production.

You must quit long before your project is perfect because you’ll go too far (gold-plating and overworking). You’re then wasting energy and time. There is an opportunity cost because you could be working on something else – perhaps even something better. It takes discipline to ignore inconsequential or inherent flaws.

What does sloppiness have to do with web innovation?
You need a certain amount of chaos to be creative. But not to the point you feel overwhelmed. Too much uncertainty discourages people from their best effort. Direction, purpose, and the right amount of structure create freedom. People feel liberated by focused goals and guidelines (limits). Too much control is micromanagement or obsessive paranoia.

Risk reduction and iterative improvisation.
Remember, there’s no perceivable improvement by wasting the final 80 percent of resources. It doesn’t improve the stagecraft. Only another perfectionist can even notice it. And then only upon close examination – but never observed from a distance.

Perfection is waste or selfish.
Our definition of creativity requires optimization. How much can we reduce components before the whole becomes unrecognizable? – or useless? Reducing expectations permits us more prolific output and experimentation. Projects turnover faster.

Creativity involves accidental discoveries, shortcuts, and workarounds – even sloppy or embarrassing moments. Creativity requires critics mocking us as we take silly risks and look dumb.

Creativity is repurposing components from faster, cheaper, more available or unwanted components. Then the surprised audience redefines stupid as resourceful after the laughter dies. Discovering unrealized potential becomes brilliant use of scarce resources.

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”
– Richard P. Feynman, physicist

With an IQ of a merely respectable 125, Feynman won a 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics (quantum electrodynamics) and helped build the atomic bomb during WWII.

“He who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.”
– Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

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by - Faizan Shaikh