2 min read

The Cost of Craft

One of those articles you'll reread every couple of months.

The Cost of Craft
Why is it so hard to do great work at scale?
What happens when you succeed? If you feel like you’re focusing more on growth than creating great work, it might be time to figure out a new vision for the future

For the most part, the way you move these numbers is by shipping some kind of change to the product. In my experience, these changes tend to fall into one of three areas: Innovate, Iterate, or Compete.


A major transformation like reimagining entire parts of a product, or making a whole new product. This means lots of exploration, experimentation, and uncertainty. It also requires alignment across many teams, which gets more difficult with scale. If you do get to ship, you may find that it can take time for people to adjust to big changes or adopt new behaviors, making short-term metrics look “concerning”. These kinds of projects seem to be more common at the start of a company, but become "too risky” over time.


Smaller, more incremental changes to a product. You might be improving existing functionality, or expanding a feature in some obvious way. These projects are easier to execute than big, innovative projects, and they usually have a lower risk of bad metrics. At the same time, they also have a low chance of driving any meaningful user growth or impact because they’re not as flashy or exciting as new features.


Expand a product by borrowing features from a competitor that is semi-adjacent to what you already do. These projects are seen as "low risk" and sometimes “essential” because that competitor has already proven that people really want this feature. They have high short-term impact potential too, whether from the novelty effects of people trying something new or the excessive growth push (maybe a new tab or a big loud banner) requested by leadership to ensure that "our new bet is successful.”