A complex system designed from scratch never works

There’s a saying that programmers pass around:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system. — John Gall

While this was written about in the context of designing computer software systems, it applies to many other systems too.

About a month ago I wrote about how I built up a complex email automation system and how the system grew so complex that it started to fall apart.

Since then I’ve gone back and remade it into a simple system, removing a lot of parts that were supposed to be good ideas but that failed once they were used.

It sucks to throw away work but I learned a long time ago to not feel bad about it.

Holding onto something beyond its usefulness is never a good idea.

My tip for you today is to start taking a critical look at what you use to run your business and ask yourself, is this still useful or is holding onto it hurting things?

The easy example would be to check what apps you have installed in your store but this goes beyond that.

What services and 3rd party scripts have you added to your store?

What features have you tried in Shopify but haven’t fully adopted?

What about your marketing and advertising. Are you still paying for and integrating services that aren’t doing anything?

(I’m not even going to touch on business operations or we’ll be here all day)

This should be an ongoing thought process you think about as the business owner. But with summer drawing to a close, now is a good time to start cleaning house to prepare for the rest of the year.

Eric Davis

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