Moving Fast and Breaking Things: Pros and Cons

10 June 2014

"Moving fast and breaking things" is at the heart of the startup philosophy of being scrappy. Facebook was the notable proponent of this philosophy until recently, but many startups also believe in it. This way of working usually emphasizes testing out new ideas, iterating quickly based on data, and aiming for more frequent points of learning.

The startup I joined a year and a half ago used to believe very much in moving fast and breaking things. As the company has matured, we've consciously moved to a slightly more deliberate pace of work (let's call it "moving at a nice clip and breaking fewer things", pithier version forthcoming). This transition, however, has really allowed us as employees to see the pros and cons of our older philosophy.

Pros (aka the Times of Exhilaration)

Cons (aka The Potential Regrets)

I've had the chance to experience both the "move fast and break things" philosophy and a slower, more deliberate philosophy within the same company. It's definitely possible to "move fast and break things" in a clearly wrong way: if your tests aren't designed to give you valuable learnings, if you're breaking too many things in your attempt to move faster, etc. And even if your company executes it well, you will probably want to adopt a new philosophy as you mature, as our company did. If you have any good stories or analyses of how this philosophy contributed to or detracted from the success of a company in the long-term, please leave a note about it!

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