Slow Projects

What is a slow project? And why does it matter how we define it?

Russell Davies, a member of the London based Really Interesting Group (amongst other things), spoke at the Do Lectures about Slow Projects in 2008. Essentially, he theorises that there is this ‘eternal triangle’ in projects: that you can do things good, cheap or fast – but only two at a time.

Slow Project Triangle

As we evolve as humans, we are finding ourselves capable of doing much much more with our time than our predecessors. Clay Shirky calls this the Cognitive Surplus. Many of us are finding it obvious that we use this time to express ourselves in a creative capacity, to expand our boundaries, as it were. However, what’s different from previous times, is that we’re often doing this in a way that is beneficial to the planetary ecosystem. We do these slow projects because they are good for the soul of ones self, of others and of the planet.

The world is growing ever more complex. Many of our traditional institutions are no longer providing functional solutions to these wicked problems we find ourselves faced with. What we will find, is that people who have immersed themselves in different slow projects, will have more resilient ideas about how to manage this complexity moving forwards.

Good things take time, and some of the best things have become so good because they have been going for a while. Think about the things you enjoy doing, and think about why you enjoy doing them. Our own projects are going to take time to become that awesome. The idea of a slow project, is to be calm and ok with it taking that time. To be constantly moving closer to ones ambition is the aim.

This blog is one such example. I’m very excited that, after 3 years, I have a subscription button! Please do subscribe up on the top right, and get these blog posts delivered to your inbox!

21 thoughts on “Slow Projects

  1. Interesting concept. I hadn’t heard about “slow projects” before and didn’t realise it was a new trend, but I’ve been working on a “slow project” all year. It’s been hard work, but hopefully the resilience and perseverance we’ve shown this year in establishing our project will show people that we’re here to stay.

    I agree with your advice: write down what you have to do first and get started. Don’t worry about “how” too much, otherwise you’ll come up against reasons why you shouldn’t start.

  2. for all the impatient people in the world I’d like to add scheduling small wins in to help you and your slow project survive 🙂

  3. “Good things take time, and some of the best things have become so good because they have been going for a while.”

    I think it is true Steve that depth and time go hand in hand.

  4. I think the key is really “joy” – I’m finding projects I engage in that are ‘financially driven are far less palatable when they are slow….

    Lately, I’ve questioned the whole idea of staying the course. I must be in a personal winter or something…


    1. Yeah, keep at it. Winter is just a season – it passes. 🙂 

      I think, by the sounds of it, the projects you’re currently working on are _only_ financially driven. It doesn’t sound like you’re gaining much enjoyment from them. 

  5. Hey, all makes wholesome sense. I’ve started a personal project called GiGHack merely because I got disengaged with looking to make money independently with ‘the next big thing’. GiGHack is all about supporting live music in intimate (small) venues in Australia through FanFunding. Truth is, I get a kick out the band scene. I want to be involved.

    It’s no secret that startups are generally successful when they provide a solution to common problems and I’ m following the Lean Startup methodology to experiment with GiGHack. If it doesn’t prove to add value to folks, no good flogging a dead horse. BUT, it has to start somewhere.

    I can’t code, write awesome copy, or design but I’m sticking my neck out for a long period of testing and iteration.

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