Fast, Cheap AND Good

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

You will agree that today’s digital camera or mobile phone world is offering all of the three choices. Cameras are becoming cheaper every day, functionality is fast with lots of features and quality is not only good but much better.  We can find out similar examples in other sectors as well.  Now cheap is becoming relative thing when we consider the features and functionality.  Take an example of MP3 players, iPods are not that cheap in comparison with some other cheap and good mp3 players.  Cheap does not imply that product (or service) must be least expensive, but it should be right priced in comparison with products of similar functionality and features. 

This thought process was triggered when I was listening to Peter Sheahan’s audio book called Flip: How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head–and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings. People or organizations offering all three options (fast, cheap and good) are the ones reaping the financial rewards and are leading the way.  This book is quite informative and thought provoking.  Although I am at second CD, I am enjoying it and learning new ideas and concepts.  It stirs your mind to produce new ideas.

Peter underlines that companies have to offer services that are fast, cheap and good plus some extra benefit in order to stay competitive and grow. 

Technologies and techniques are getting obsolete sooner than before.  Going forward we have to focus on being fast, cheap AND good.  We got to be very innovative and creative in offering services and solutions with Kai-zen mentality. We need to work extra smart for the buck or someone else will. 

In Project Management terms – Fast relates to Time, Cheap relates to Cost and Good relates to Scope (remember tripple constraints).   I found an interactive tool (link)  based on traditional approach ‘pick any two’ that shows how two influence the third parameter. 

Thanks for reading the post.  What is your experience? I welcome your insight and thoughts on this topic.

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2 Responses to Fast, Cheap AND Good

  1. AlexM says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. Hello Kulveer,

    It’s a very interesting post. A key to a good decision in this ‘pick two’ scenario could be the ability to assess what’s on offer and the relevant definitions. A cheap good part today could break a little more often than an ‘expensive’ good part, costing you more in downtime, for example.

    I find car buyers often assume good then focus on fast and cheap!

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