Monday, July 29, 2013

Technical Friction

While working on a roadmap for the future of our products at B2b2dot0, I realized we needed to have a consistent way of prioritizing internal efforts. Several of our internal efforts require modifications to fundamental pieces of our current products and processes.  So much so that it would require moving slower on current "billable" work. Justifying that level of structural change is difficult, especially at a startup where bandwidth is at a premium. But we also can not forget to spend time on increasing efficiency.

Each of these changes represented a certain risk, but they also offered a great benefit to all future work and efforts. Lean methodologies teach us about constraints and maximizing flow through constraints. In thinking about flow, I realized it's about friction. When there is high friction it becomes hard for things to flow through the system. If we can reduce friction, we increase flow.

Technical Friction is the resistance that all improvements encounter from existing technical infrastructure (and culture). We have all encountered this before, typically in the form or we can't do X because of Y.

Reduce technical friction. Aspire to be a polar bear on ice.
In identifying Technical Friction it became obvious how to prioritize internal efforts. The projects that reduced the most amount of friction deserved the most amount of attention. Simple enough. But what about reducing friction in a system that is currently running, receives little to no updates, and works as is? Reducing friction is those systems has low ROI and would more than likely introduce more work into the system as most systems that fit that description are fragile and difficult to test. So for the purposes of prioritizing it is also important to consider the flow and utilization of the component that has high friction.

This helps. The roadmap is now clearer and we can start moving by focusing on reducing friction in the systems that are constantly moving and changing. The goal is not to start moving, but to continue moving with low friction.

No comments:

Post a Comment