Find a judo solution: maximum efficiency with minimum effort

TJL #143


A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions. Flexing your intellectual muscles can be intoxicating. Then you start looking for another big challenge that gives you that same rush, regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not.

A better idea: Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Judo solutions are all about getting the most out of doing the least. Whenever you face an obstacle, look for a way to judo it.

Part of this is recognizing that problems are negotiable. Let’s say your challenge is to get a bird’s-eye view. One way to do it is to climb Mount Everest. That’s the ambitious solution. But then again, you could take an elevator to the top of a tall building. That’s a judo solution.

Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane solutions. That means there’s no glamorous work. You don’t get to show off your amazing skills. You just build something that gets the job done and then move on. This approach may not earn you oohs and aahs, but it lets you get on with it.

When good enough gets the job done, go for it. It’s way better than wasting resources or, even worse, doing nothing because you can’t afford the complex solution. And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later.

Moral of the story

  • Simple is better than complex

  • What is the simplest most effective low-tech you can think of? Use that solution.

  • Remember that you can always turn good into great later

(From Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried)