I really enjoyed reading this, partly just because it felt like a good TLDR for The Lean Startup, but Facebook-centric. But I feel like there are a couple (and probably more) pretty important unanswered questions:

- Is this really how good ideas/products/experiences happened at Facebook and other successful companies? What I've seen in Facebook-lite companies is that without relevant experience/wisdom/discipline-in-reading-data-that-is-a-poor-proxy-for-measuring-real-life-events, the hypothesis can be so wrong that the company just loses its appetite for more iteration/testing in a given area. How many tests can you run and get bad results before you give up on the whole thing? What if you started with a better idea of where the target was? I think the way most companies mitigate this is just having people who are slower and more thoughtful who have more experience make sure they're basically testing in the right general area with reasonably hypotheses.

- What is the north star metric if you're iterating that fast? If it's growth of the usage of the product, how do you weigh the cost of getting people killed with one of your experiments with pretty good growth on the other side? Is everybody cool with that? For people who would do this on a social network which affects real people, is this also how they raise their kids or govern relationships with their friends and family? No way, right?

(In reading through Nate's comments, he's touched on some of these things in a more thorough way and I see that you've already responded)

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Mar 19Liked by Rob Ennals

I agree with much of what you have to say here... and yet.

I'm actually pretty mad at the "move fast and break things" ethos right now. I feel it has done (and is still doing) harm to the world, and made silicon valley more jaded / less ethical. All things being equal, just messing around until you find something that works is often a good strategy. However, when there's a power imbalance, the situation changes profoundly. One bad decision by a programmer on a popular project could have life-altering consequences for millions of people. I don't think developers should be paralyzed trying to think through every decision, but I do think we have a responsibility to be careful when we wield so much power. Folks who buy into "high speed stupidity" too deeply can convince themselves that it's for the best that they make no attempt to anticipate or mitigate the potential harms of their product. The amortized cost is better this way. The damages are acceptable, because "sometimes you have to break a few eggs." That's easy to say when they aren't your eggs.

So, yeah, this is an important principle to understand and use, but it's gotta be tempered with humility, common sense, and compassion.

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Fantastic piece. Thanks, Rob. Provocative and illuminating, I enjoyed your insights, particularly around the role of iteration in the context of metric-driven development. Love your examples and reference to the hippy movement. And I'm not sure I agree with the conclusions. In particular, I see two large issues, or conundrums: one is that what is locally optimal or right (according a "local," such as individual organization, goal) may not jive well, if at all, with a larger (societal? community? species?) goal or definition of what constitutes "improvement." I wonder how we work with that. Perhaps there is an analogy to how societies attempt (or hope) to manage individual morality and individual aims amidst broader societal goals and wants.

The second issue, or question, I see is this: is faster necessarily better? As you point out, there can be a lot of suffering -- transition, adjustment, etc -- that can happen between two points A and B of improvement on any of these metrics, and so I think we need to take that upheaval and suffering into account. And perhaps more deeply, i wonder if we know what is the greatest (deepest) aim, is it really greater social connectivity? Is the species model of evolution -- slow, relatively speaking -- outdated and out of synch, or is there something positive and crucial hidden in not iterating at breakneck speed?

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