Want it good, fast or cheap?

Good, Fast or Cheap

Goodfastcheap. Choose two.” is a well-known project management adage.

At the moment a topic I am focussed on is remodelling and redecorating homes. I’m looking at that for myself, as are other family and friends.

It has me musing about when getting things, say, 90% “good”, as opposed to when getting closer to 100% is the right choice.

As an example, if Covid-19 tests are only 90% accurate then that is an important gap between 90-100%, but sometimes getting colour choices in redecorating may be less vital that you get close to 100%, and similarly a real variance can occur in decisions of many kinds in business.

We make so many decisions all the time, sometimes we may not be aware of our choices, around “fast, good, cheap” and around how good is good enough.

Let’s explore this, then I ask you to seek to be aware of how good is good enough for your own project management decision-making.

So, as an example, the (I thought!) simple topic of redecorating homes.

For me, historically when it comes to choosing colours for paint on walls it was often, well, “white”.

White can be “90% good” and can be decided fast and the decision-making process in itself is also, therefore, “cheap”. The same logic would apply to me around sofas and other key purchases on home redecorating and remodelling.

However, I’ve come to learn the power of really carefully choosing. The other day I went to a sofa store, seeing numerous ones that looked good, but then when I sat on them they would have been, at best, “90% good”, but nowhere near “100%”. They were either too soft, too low, too deep.

As in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, they weren’t “just right”.

Similarly, I am now realising that “white” is a lazy answer for paint colour. fabrics finishes. I don’t think I’ll be quite as quality oriented as somneone I know who has bought 20 or more sample paint pots while deciding on colours for their walls, but I am learning to slow down and take a little more time and analysis before making that decision.

Now, sometimes if you have the ability to think about variables fast and make a decision that is at least “90% good”, then that can be the right decision (and often was how I’d make many business decisions).

As to my new home? My guess is that when I do redecorate my new home, I will find a middle ground, perhaps (cough) 95%? 😉


Also published on Medium.