Simple Scalable Systems - How to find 80/20 Silver Bullet Solutions for any domain

Date: 2024-03-15 | create | tech | simple-scalable-systems | software-engineering | creation-cycle | productivity |

Simple Scalable Systems (3S) are the only systems that scale. This is why I talk about them so much and why my mission in life (and in my business / this blog) is to develop and share Simple Scalable Systems for 1% improvements.

In this post I'm going to define Simple Scalable Systems (3S) - a 3S heuristic for identifying 80/20 silver bullets in any domain.

Simple Scalable Systems

A Simple Scalable System (3S) is an 80/20 solution for some problem in some domain. It won't necessarily be the best solution but it's a solution that works so well and with such a low cost that its ROI makes it a great candidate in most cases.

The very name Simple Scalable System is itself a 3S heuristic for evaluating solutions for whether it has the potential to be an 80/20 silver bullet for a given domain. These heuristics are based off of my own experience analyzing, building, and reflecting on systems across a multitude of problems, solutions, and outcomes.

These heuristics are:

  • Simple - Low cost and easy to build / run (both short and long-term)
  • Scalable - Works across scenarios large and small while remaining flexible to adapt to changing conditions later
  • System - Solves the problem well consistently across time, iterations, and varying scenarios

In my experience, Simple Scalable Systems (3S) are the only kinds of systems that scale. Solutions that don't fit 3S tend to fail in common recurring patterns.

  • If it's not Simple - It will cost a lot to implement and / or slow us down long-term via ongoing overhead
  • If it's not Scalable - Then we'll need to redo it when the scenario inevitably changes and / or we'll incur huge costs to redo the solution
  • If it's not System(ic) - Then we can't reuse what we've learned / built and will need to go back to the drawing board first, incurring the full cost once again

Examples of Simple Scalable Systems

Simple Scalable Systems (3S) exist everywhere. They are simply effective patterns that are quite good in their domains. Just as there are beginner tips for every video game, so too are there 3S in every IRL domain.

Here are some examples from different domains:


Simple Scalable Systems (3S) are not the best choice for everything and honestly are often not the best choice for any one thing. But 3S are great at most things which allows you to get good results (B+) with minimal effort so you can move on to focus on those things that actually matter (and ensure you get an A+ in those). Over time and across many projects they do tend to be the best choice in aggregate.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Want more like this?

The best / easiest way to support my work is by subscribing for future updates and sharing with your network.