05 July 2011

Shortening The Max

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform that helps connect small investors with creative types. It's a wonderful way for people to quickly raise small amounts of money to help fund interesting projects... to get a kickstart, if you will.

I mention them because of a recent blog post my friend Kelly sent me. The gist of the post is that Kickstarter has shortened the maximum project length, from 90 days to 60.

Why did they do this? Simple - they found an inverse correlation between project length and project success. In plain English, shorter projects succeeded more often (see graph to left). Longer projects succeeded less often.

In the interest of science, I really appreciated their explanation that longer projects don't necessarily fail because they were longer. Remember, correlation doesn't prove causality. There are no doubt several factors leading to project success, and duration may be one of them. But they were careful to avoid proclaiming they'd discovered a direct cause.

I think the data is pretty interesting, and the correlation is indeed tight. While this doesn't prove a long duration directly reduces the success rate, I think there is wisdom in keeping the schedule short. That's a big part of the FIST approach - good projects have short schedules. Let's take a closer look at the interplay of some of these forces.

Maybe part of the dynamic is that when your schedule is tightly constrained, you're more focused on doing the essentials - the stuff that matters most. Longer timelines increase the temptation to overextend the scope. Longer timelines also expose the project to more changes, which tend to be expensive & complexifying, both factors which tend to go along with reduced success rates.

Bottom line: this is one more data point supporting the idea that short timelines go along with higher success rates. When you're designing your project, whether it's a fundraiser for your new album or a developing a new fighter jet, take a close look at how much time you're planning to spend. My recommendation is to shorten the timeline as much as possible... and then cut it a bit more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I apologize up front for not knowing a better place to send this, but I figure you'll get a kick out of it. A photographer set up a rube goldberg machine to take a self portrait. The video of it working is fun, the 'making of' video is where the meat's at.

Have a good one. -mike