Do 5% less

I’ve been thinking about things that were ruined by doing about 5% more than was necessary, like an actor whose plastic surgery looks plastic.

Sometimes excellence requires pushing ourselves to do more than we want to do or more than we think we can do. But sometimes excellence requires restraint. Context is everything.

A few times the extra effort I’ve put into a report backfired. An illustration added to make things clearer caused confusion. (Or maybe it revealed confusion.)

I’ve made software harder to write and harder to use by having it do a little more than it should have, such as trying to fully automate something that should be 95% automated.

In the course of writing this post I’ve thought of several ways to expand it. I’ve drafted and deleted several versions of this concluding paragraph. But I’ll take my own advice and stop.

3 thoughts on “Do 5% less

  1. As a former newspaper science writer, I’ve undoubtedly done pieces that in retrospect seem “over-written”.

    My excuse is that most were written to very tight deadlines, and are thus subject to “Pascal’s Paradox”, summed up in his famous line: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

  2. There’s a joke in here about p-values I’m sure…

    Part of my current role is ascertaining minimal viable product. Perhaps a bit about how to prevent firms from consistently asking for or demanding more from their engineers? Marginal projected sales or similar?

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