Hiltmon

On walkabout in life and technology

That Last Effin 20%

I love creating new products. I love shipping new products more. That last effin 20% of work to create a new product that takes 80% of all the development time kills me. I really want to ship, but it has to be right.

For those who do not know the 80/20 rule, it’s a variant of the misnamed Pareto Principal wherein Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula in 1906 to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. This was then applied to other areas and seemed to hold true.

In reality, Tom Cargill had it right where the right measure was 180% of the time:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Tom Cargill Bell Labs

Over the past few months I have been buried in the last effin 20% (or remaining 90% of time depending on who you follow) of a major product development. Designing it was quite easy. Building the core architecture was great. Getting the primary functions up and working was quick. Getting it fast, right and accurate is the last effin 20% and it has taken months.

Today, the product passed its first certification, which means I’m almost ready to ship. Today is a good day. The effin 20% is almost over.

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