One of the things that continually amazes me about the startup business is the tendency of supposedly maverick entrepreneurs to very quickly elevate trendy received knowledge to the level of universal truth. Thus “Lean Startup” becomes not simply a theory about how to build certain kinds of products, but the only way anyone can imagine building any product, regardless of how well the model actually fits the problem domain. A few companies have notable success after “pivoting” from their original idea, therefore constantly pivoting becomes the only way to find “product-market fit.” A designer friend of mine from a New York startup spoke at a conference in SF awhile back and was shocked at people’s utter befuddlement when he explained why he doesn’t use A/B testing in his (obviously successful) work. I used to be part of teams at Apple that regularly shipped complex, high quality software on time with very light methodological overhead, yet I find many young engineers seem unable to imagine shipping any kind of software without religious adherence to the precepts of Agile and TDD. As Fred Brooks’s famous essay on software engineering says, there are no silver bullets and I think a lot of people in this business would be well advised to consider trendy business advice with a bit more nuance.

Update: See also.

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