The scale of giving a damn

Everyone has an opinion on things.

If you're in a small team and you're building a product then it's likely everyone has a deep level of involvement in your product, your marketing, your hiring, and everything else in your company.

The thing is, when everyone has an opinion, it's likely they won't always be the same opinions. People clash. Ideas are fought over. Arguments happen.

Most of these arguments and debates are good. But when you need to narrow in on a really tough decision then it can be hard to stop the discussion developing for hours. Worst of all, it can be the case that no decision gets made at all.

Decisions being deferred is how startups die a slow death. As we always like to say in the team: Act now. Not tomorrow.

So how do you make decisions more quickly when debates are going on about new features, about styling, about copy, about coding styles? Etc. Etc.

What we've found pretty handy is adopting a "scale of giving a damn". It's inspired by this slightly more sweary post from Cap Watkins of Etsy.

Essentially, for a discussion or debate that's seemingly taking longer than it should, that has no clear sign of ending, where neither side has enough data at the table, someone tries to pull out the question: "on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a damn do you give?"

Each side of the debate figures out where they're at on the scale of 1-10 and whoever cares more (gives more of a damn) makes the call.

This isn't the answer to all of life's problems, but it's certainly helped cut a lot of conversations down from 5 hours to 5 minutes. It's helped a lot of decisions get made. And it's helped a lot of people get on with their jobs without feeling pissed off or shouted down.

No one wins an argument, after all.

James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK