Miracles vs Marvels

When I was a technical seller, I used to have a joke that if our product couldn’t do it today – a Cloudflare Solutions Engineer could do it tomorrow. We had an amazing, highly technical team that could deploy some edge side code, python some APIs together, or stand up a some virtual servers to help move a customer forward. We could build some functionality out of thin air to meet our customers needs during pre- and post-sale. In the early phases of a startup, this type of duct tape and miracle work was absolutely essential to get Cloudflare to where it is today.

Now, as wry as that statement was, I never quite understood the utter gift that is an N of one. Requirements are relatively straight forward, overhead is low, and there are no service level agreements to contend with. Function is paramount and things like form, scalability, and useability could take a backseat for as long as the script needed to survive – which may have only been a quarter or two. It is relatively easy to be a miracle worker for a single customer.

As I’ve shifted to the Product org, I’ve realized how shallow the joke really is. Its amazing how much harder it is to make miracles when the N starts to creep higher and higher. Balancing function, form, scalability and useability across multiple stakeholders is its own art. And fortunately, its a longer-lasting one. You get to delight more and more customers over time, and when you get it right with a team of amazing designers and engineers, you get to create marvels.

In conclusion, always be thankful for when N=1 and you get to create little miracles. A good start and great questions are worth their weight in gold during the early stages of a startup. And be grateful for the marvels that trade speed of execution for longevity and scale. Together, both lead to a lot more happy customers.

  • February 22, 2024