Slow, Smooth, Fast, Effective


A mantra I apply to product design

“Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” is a common mantra in marksmanship. The kernel of wisdom being: Don’t rush, make your actions count, and you’ll come out ahead.

It’s inspired a mantra that I apply to product design:

Slow Smooth Fast Effective

Thinking slowly about the problem provides the insight and context needed to solve it holistically. Step back, and take a deep breath. Understand your true target. It’s probably not the first thing that caught your eye.

Acting smoothly means that your movements aren’t wasted. Once you’ve identified the true target, your actions can be efficient, and focused. You hit your target with accuracy.

Moving fast is a byproduct of accuracy. Missing your target creates unnecessary waste, forcing you to recalibrate, reload, and resight. Only after you’ve hit your target can you move on to the next one. Accuracy is fast.

Effectiveness is the byproduct of speed and accuracy. If you hit your targets smoothly and quickly, you’ve become an effective marksman.

Notice that each step builds upon the previous one: You must go slowly and smoothly before you can be fast and effective.

Focus on being slow and smooth, and the rest will follow.


If you’d like to embrace a calmer, more thoughtful way to work, check out Basecamp 3. It’s the saner way to manage projects and communicate company-wide.


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