Imagine you're a soldier in mediaeval times. You have the choice of bringing one of five swords into battle with you.

Which one would you choose?

Most likely, you'd choose the sword that was the sharpest, the strongest, and the most reliable. You wouldn't bring all five swords with you, because that would just weigh you down and make you less effective in battle.

This analogy is at the heart of Intercom's engineering philosophy philosophy, 'Run Less Software'. Just like a mediaeval soldier could only effectively wield one sword at a time, Intercom built a $200 million business with the philosophy that companies can only effectively run a limited number of software systems at once.

The philosopher Seneca wrote about the importance of simplicity and focus in his letters. He said, "It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor."

Focus isn't just about narrowing your vision, it's about magnifying your impact. Discover the 'vital few'.

Another great paradigm for understanding how to do more with less is something known as the Pareto principle. This concept is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. The 80/20 rule turns out to be widely applicable, and you can often infer in a variety of contexts that roughly 80% of outcomes will come from 20% of causes.

This suggests that focusing on the most important 20% of tasks can lead to the greatest impact. Like Intercom, Seneca, and Pareto, narrow your focus. Locate the โ€˜vital fewโ€™. Become ruthlessly efficient.

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