What can we remove?

· 1 minute read

Our bias is to always add more. More rules, more process, more code, more features, more stuff. Interdependencies proliferate, and gradually strangle us. Systems want to grow and grow, but without pruning, they collapse. Slowly, then spectacularly.

When a piece of trash drifts across the beach, it is our duty to pick it up so the next person can enjoy a pristine shoreline. When a thousand pieces litter the beach, it is too late. We can only lament the landscape. That’s just how beaches are now.

A good system is designed to be periodically cleared of cruft. It has a built-in counterbalance. Without this pressure, our bias drives us to add band-aid after band-aid, until the only choice is to destroy the whole system and start from scratch.

Why is it so much easier to add than to remove? Maybe because we attach our identity to what is visible. But there is a difference between the ornamentation that defines our style and the vestigial burdens we carry.

Remember those who did the invisible work of removing. Their legacy was not to build a sand castle, but to care for the beautiful beach on which we play.