When I was 12, I loved to cook with my mother. She had this awesome skill that took me a while to understand (around 15 years) and develop myself. It looked like improvisation around the kitchen, but at the same time, she was following a set of instructions.
One day, I wanted to bake a cake. It was one of those cakes that look so good in the box, and you only need to add water, oil, and an egg, and put it in the oven. I had seen my mother and sister do it a million times. How hard could it be?
I found myself with a mix of powder, trying to figure out how to turn on the oven. My mother, who was keeping an eye on me, saw me struggling and came to help.
“Do you want to turn on the oven?” she asked.
“I do. Can you turn it on to 120°C? That’s what the instructions say,” I said with confidence.
She went ahead and turned it on. This kind of oven had to be lit with a match in order to start the gas. It still scares me to turn on these kinds of ovens today.
We put the mix inside the oven, and it was ready to go. Now we just had to wait for around 30 minutes or until it was done.
When my mother went out of the kitchen, I had a brilliant idea: if the mix would cook in 30 minutes at 120°C, it would cook in 15 minutes at 240°C. Of course, the cake burnt, and my mother gave me a talk about how cooking doesn’t work that way, that it takes time.
This memory got me thinking recently. Sometimes we’re in such a rush that we think productivity and coding faster will give us better results. I’m talking about tools, processes, and the way we think about problems.
Is going fast always better? Is rushing the way to write better software and lead a company? Or should we slow down, give it time, and have a well-cooked cake instead?