I like this heuristic, and have a few which are similar in intent to it:

Hiring efficiency:

How long does it take, measured from initial expression of interest through offer of employment signed, for a typical candidate cold inbounding to the company?

What is the *theoretical minimum* for *any* candidate?
How long does it take, as a developer newly hired at the company:

* To get a fully credentialed machine issued to you
* To get a fully functional development environment on that machine which could push code to production immediately
* To solo ship one material quanta of work
How long does it take, from first idea floated to "It's on the Internet", to create a piece of marketing collateral.

(For bonus points: break down by ambitiousness / form factor.)
How many people have to say yes to do something which is clearly worth doing which costs $5,000 / $15,000 / $250,000 and has never been done before.
How long would it take an employee, utterly convinced that the CEO needed to know a material fact urgently, to communicate it to the CEO.

How long would it take the CEO to acknowledge receipt. (Would it be by their designate?)
Given that you have the full name of a coworker, how long does it take to determine:

* who their manager is
* what their title or role is
* what their primary project as of today is
Everything breaks and the world is on fire.

How long:

* Until the first responder responds
* Until the second responder responds
* Until someone says the local equivalent of "I am in charge of the incident."
A coworker is in obvious distress for uncertain reasons.

How long until someone offers to help?

How long until someone factually helps effectively?
An idea is floated for a new business unit / product / whatever the local equivalent is given company/industry/stage.

How long until it launches into the hands of customers who perceive it as a generally available offering?
How many keystrokes would be required to do an A/B test of the H1 on the homepage?

How many minutes from first keystroke to first person seeing it in production?

(I'm being very generous to the software industry here. *sigh*)
How long does it take an email from an unrecognized email address to the most generic tier 1 support alias to reach a senior responsible engineer / lawyer / executive given clear relevance to them?
What percentage of emails which an omnipotent, benevolent deity would route to a senior responsible engineer / lawyer / executive factually make it from tier 1 customer support to a senior responsible engineer / lawyer / executive?
You might sensibly read these heuristics and think "Hmm, you seem to over-focus on speed. Aren't quality, price, etc also really important?"

These questions don't *really* test for speed. They test for *repeatable competence at scale*, which is another thing entirely.
Incidentally these make good questions to get informal reads on companies and/or fill the "So, any questions for me?" part of interviews, because they're much more specific than "Do you like working here?", less likely to elicit social desirability bias in answers, etc.

More from Patrick McKenzie

There are a *lot* of software shops in the world that would far rather have one more technical dependency than they'd like to pay for one of their 20 engineers to become the company's SPOF expert on the joys of e.g. HTTP file uploads, CSV parsing bugs, PDF generation, etc.

Every year at MicroConf I get surprised-not-surprised by the number of people I meet who are running "Does one thing reasonably well, ranks well for it, pulls down a full-time dev salary" out of a fun side project which obviates a frequent 1~5 engineer-day sprint horizontally.

"Who is the prototypical client here?"

A consulting shop delivering a $X00k engagement for an internal system, a SaaS company doing something custom for a large client or internally facing or deeply non-core to their business, etc.

(I feel like many of these businesses are good answers to the "how would you monetize OSS to make it sustainable?" fashion, since they often wrap a core OSS offering in the assorted infrastructure which makes it easily consumable.)

"But don't the customers get subscription fatigue?"

I think subscription fatigue is far more reported by people who are embarrassed to charge money for software than it is experienced by for-profit businesses, who don't seem to have gotten pay-biweekly-for-services fatigue.

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A brief analysis and comparison of the CSS for Twitter's PWA vs Twitter's legacy desktop website. The difference is dramatic and I'll touch on some reasons why.

Legacy site *downloads* ~630 KB CSS per theme and writing direction.

6,769 rules
9,252 selectors
16.7k declarations
3,370 unique declarations
44 media queries
36 unique colors
50 unique background colors
46 unique font sizes
39 unique z-indices


PWA *incrementally generates* ~30 KB CSS that handles all themes and writing directions.

735 rules
740 selectors
757 declarations
730 unique declarations
0 media queries
11 unique colors
32 unique background colors
15 unique font sizes
7 unique z-indices


The legacy site's CSS is what happens when hundreds of people directly write CSS over many years. Specificity wars, redundancy, a house of cards that can't be fixed. The result is extremely inefficient and error-prone styling that punishes users and developers.

The PWA's CSS is generated on-demand by a JS framework that manages styles and outputs "atomic CSS". The framework can enforce strict constraints and perform optimisations, which is why the CSS is so much smaller and safer. Style conflicts and unbounded CSS growth are avoided.