As an experiment, we decided to start doing lots of really small experiments, so Big Bang could slowly grow into the kick-ass company we see ourselves being in the future. Many failures, and a few successes later, we're still committed to our radical pursuit of improvement. Read more...
I started writing the Technology Start-Up 101 blog posts as one of our many micro-experiments. It all began after I heard the Mann Gruber talk on obsession, which I've linked to in a few separate posts. That talk helped me realize what I should be writing and thinking about. I'm posting these articles because they talk about the real problems we face, and it turns out I'm not the only one struggling to find good answers. When you can go out for beers with a guy like Matt Milan and have him say, "Hey guys, we struggled with the same problem that you did,' then you know you're having the right problems.
Digging deeper into my obsession also lead me towards publishing stuff like the anti-pitch. Again, when a guy like Mike Gunderloy links to your article, you know you're talking about the right problems. But I'm not an expert, I'm just making decisions based on predictions and results. Each small experiment we start is like introducing a new gene into the Big Bang DNA. Each effort will survive or cease to exist based on its merits, and we're ok with that.
Because we embrace radicalism, we're free to post facts and thoughts that many consider taboo. We're built for being radical. Our grand experiment (Big Bang) sits atop many micro-experiments, each containing the potential for mutation, growth, and change. Decision-making is based on the outcomes as measured against our conditions of success. We also structure our grand experiment so we have very little to lose. Our commitment to minimalism and frugality engrains a particular attitude inside of us. I'd best describe it as the reckless pursuit of improvement.
Want a few examples?
Tech Start-up 101:
- Problem: We don't know if we're "doing things" in the best possible way.
- Conjecture: This is because many people in our community are either unable or unwilling to discuss their core problems.
- Prediction: If we publish and discuss our most vulnerable core problems, we will receive feedback and learn ways to do things better.
- Test: Our condition of success for this experiment was receiving a few pieces of feedback from respected peers.
- Results: Overwhelming feedback from respected peers, and new relationships with developers that I never met before.
- Therefore: Continue our pursuit of disclosure.
- Problem: Fixing bugs is the biggest impediment to the evolution of good software.
- Conjecture: This is because many people are reluctant to learn new ways of doing things because learning is hard.
- Prediction: If Cameron takes the time to learn test-driven development, he will have to fix less bugs.
- Test: Use test-driven development exclusively on a pilot project and compare overall code quality and development time to past experience.
- Results: Happier clients, and frosty, minty, fresh-smelling code.
- Therefore: Instill a code culture of test-driven development.
See Cameron's screencast, Writing Tests First in FireUnit.
Some other successful micro-experiments include:
- Rubber Ducky programming
- Having a good Accountant
- Drafting a shareholder's agreement
- Making home-made lunches
- Website Minimalism
Some unsuccessful micro-experiments:
- Needs-based pay scale
- Publicizing our portfolio
- 4 hour work week
- Morning Meetings with Max
You don't become a successful technology start-up overnight. You have to learn, experiment, fail, reassess, demolish, rebuild, embarrass yourself, laugh at yourself, try new things, work long hours, learn, mind-stretch, motivate, and most importantly partake in the radical and reckless pursuit of improvement.
And remember, you can get at me anytime you want to.