Living with the ‘Fast, Good, Cheap’ love triangle

A wonderful joke my father has told me many times is the perfect introduction to the Fast, Good, Cheap love triangle that many project leaders commonly forget.

A man brings some very fine material to a tailor and asks him to make a pair of pants. When he comes back a week later, the pants are not ready. Two weeks later, they still are not ready. Finally, after six weeks, the pants are ready. The man tries them on. They fit perfectly. Nonetheless, when it comes time to pay, he can’t resist a jibe at the tailor.

“You know,” he says, “it took God only six days to make the world. And it took you six weeks to make just one pair of pants.”

“Ah,” the tailor says. “But look at this pair of pants, and look at the world!”
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From this we could deduct a couple things…

  1. that the tailor applied the Good and Cheap methods to his business and this impacted the overall speed of delivery.

  2. the tailor suggests that God perhaps used the Fast and Cheap methods and this impacted the overall quality of the product.

Love Triangles

A love triangle (also called a romantic love triangle or a romance triangle or an eternal triangle) is usually a romantic relationship involving three people. While it can refer to two people independently romantically linked with a third, it usually implies that each of the three people has some kind of relationship to the other two. The relationships can be friendships, romantic, or familial.

The term “love triangle” generally connotes an arrangement unsuitable to one or more of the people involved. One person typically ends up feeling betrayed at some point (e.g., “Person A is jealous of Person C who is having a relationship with Person B who, in Person A’s eyes, is ‘his/her’ person.”).

In this case, our love triangle is between Fast, Good, and Cheap.

When Fast and Good love each other, it ends up being expensive.

When Fast and Cheap love each other, it ends up being ugly.

When Good and Cheap love each other, it ends up being slow.

No matter which two lovers come together there is always something they lose.

Venn Diagram

Fast, Good, Cheap Venn Diagram Let us have our good old friend John Venn help us explain things here with a diagram.

This diagram helps us understand what happens when we start leaning towards one direction in our love triangle and how it will affect matters.


All jokes aside, whenever you have to create a new product, service or even set new goals for yourself you should have a good understanding of this love triangle and accept that you cannot have it all.

Once you accept this and make a clear decision of what you want and are willing to accept, your goals and ultimately final product will be exactly how you expected it to be… which is awesome!

Because ultimately your customers need to know what to expect in the end of all the work you have done to get there.

Set and understand these expectations early!