Fast Cheap Good

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

One of my all time favorite mental models for projects is fast cheap good. It’s such a useful simple lens for analyzing different options.

Here’s an excerpt from A Guide to Smarter Decision-Making For Startup Leaders:

Assess solutions against criteria. After you have come up with multiple options, you may be ready to decide. For bigger decisions, it might make sense to assess those solutions against criteria.
Maybe you know what the criteria are, or maybe you came up with specific criteria when you defined the problem.
I find that nearly all criteria fall into three categories: speed, price, quality. Or even simpler: fast, cheap, good. I like to lump criteria into these categories because they tend to be universally understandable and applicable.

A Guide to Smarter Decision-Making For Startup Leaders

Fast Cheap Good – For Freelancers

I love how Neil Gaiman puts it in that great commencement speech:

You stay employed when your work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three!
Two out of three is fine.
People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you.
And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.