Your bugs are shallow.



Ben Horowitz, he of the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, recently published a fantastic new book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a business when there are no easy answers.


Never mind the venture capital mystique, if you are in business and lead people, you ought to read this book.


(For more on the venture capital mystique, watch HBO’s new series Silicon Valley. Hilarious and entirely mystique-less.)




Early in the book Horowitz references an open-source mantra when discussing teamwork:

“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”


The initial unintelligibility of the phrase made it memorable for me.

Horowitz explains that coding errors become obvious to someone – and therefore solvable – when you have enough people working on the problem.


And to get enough people working on the problem, you must communicate the problem to a lot of people.


And there’s the rub.


When things turn south, our instinct is to cradle the baby tight.
Hide it.
Solve it on our own.


We don’t want to appear vulnerable.
We don’t want to be vulnerable.
Or worse, dumb.


But this strategy of sheltering the problem is counterproductive.
The sooner the problem is shared, identified and solved – the sooner you can move on.


And the path to identification is through mental brute force.
More brains, more solutions.


The more people working on the problem, the sooner it will be solved.
Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.


I’ve seen dozens of seemingly vexing drywall problems solved quickly once the actual drywallers – the ones doing the work – were asked to lend their eyeballs and IQ.


They were only advised as a last resort because of the language barrier.


Yeah… I know their working life depends on hanging and mudding drywall all day, but they speak Spanish… let’s ask Brian instead, he was in Purchasing one time.”


Don’t let language barriers limit the number of eyeballs on your bug.

Type out your most common problem.

If you don’t have a translator (or a budget), use Google Translate to Spanishize your problem.

It will get you close enough.


Print out 100 copies of the problem statement and hand them out.
Offer $100 to anyone returning an idea that leads to a solution.


When you ask for advice, people want to help.
They appreciate being asked.
It’s a form of admiration for the person’s skills and talents.


Maybe that’s your intention… or maybe not.
Who cares?


Your goal is to get more eyeballs on your bug.

Focus on the eyeballs.

Not the bug.


Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.

If you enjoyed this post and would be interested in other related content, subscribe to our monthly Newsletter – the Red Angle Revista. Once a month, no fluff, no sales pitches. Just ideas and language skills to help you run a better job.


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