Terence Tay, one of our product architects, pointed out that there may be a fundamental conflict between the goals of simplicity and redundancy. At first I squirmed and tried to explain how they are not at odds, but he is right. Training multiple people to do the same job or adding servers so you can handle a hardware failure will always take some extra time, effort, money, and all that adds up to complexity. Darn.

I want business philosophy to be easy, but the real world is messy. There are times when some of your cherished goals are in conflict. Then you have to decide which is most important and bend one or perhaps both goals to fit the situation. A pithy business book (or one of my articles) can make decisions seem easy. Statements like, “Always keep it simple!” sound great in isolation, but it isn’t always clear how to apply it when you are up to your neck in real problems.

It is fun and useful to read business advice from opinionated folks like 37signals, Seth Godin, and even me. Just remember that the advice served the author well, but you will almost certainly have to bend it to fit your business. In some cases you may even decide that a piece of advice is completely wrong for you. Good! Now you’re really thinking. Don’t let a writer lull you to sleep with the promise that there are easy answers.