You’re Only as Good as Your Worst Component

Here in my office we have great fridges in the kitchen.  They’re not cheap, but they are seriously good.  Large, easily cleanable shelves, an aluminium body, even refrigeration and actually rather nice to look at.  There’s even a handle at the front that opens in a really satisfying way (It’s a lever that pulls apart the door from the rest of the fridge).  In short, a cracking fridge.


It’s a pity it’s broken.  That flash handle I mentioned: it’s got a component made out of plastic.  And it broke, meaning you can’t actually open the fridge.  Except that, of course, I’ve long since figured out how to open the fridge door.  Of course, since the handle breaks every six months and it takes over a month to replace it, you’d pretty much expect me to have got pretty good at it by now.

Now, clearly, the manufacturers messed up when they designed this.  The handle isn’t anything like as sturdy as the other parts of the system.  It’s probably not even regarded as very important by the developers.  After all, it’s still keeping the food at the right temperature.  That’s the principal SLA of a fridge, right?

All our talk of modules and KPIs can sometimes distract from actually seeing things from the user’s perspective.  He doesn’t care if 99% of the system is perfect if the 1% that isn’t makes his life hell.  So, every so often, it’s worth just taking a look at all of the things you do and seeing which you think is the worst.  Someone will probably argue that it’s not very important to fix it, but the chances are, someone will thank you if you do.

So, which is your worst component?  I’m betting it’s in the same area as my broken fridge: the front end.

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Julian Birch

Full time dad, does a bit of coding on the side.

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