Blockchain and Smart Contracts Will Change the Game From Big Upfront to Lean Experiments.


We often make big upfront commitments , decisions, investments and assume the risk of not achieving the desired outcome.

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We hire a software developer or a team of developers at the beginning of the project. Often we are required to define the technology stack and expected level of complexity up front. We wouldn’t be able to hire the team without doing so. Our choice of technology may turn out to be a bad one. Or we might end up committing to a higher budget by hiring a team with higher than the needed level of seniority. But we can’t go back on our commitment and switch to a better team of developers with appropriate level of seniority and expertise in a new technology.

Welcome to the world of smart contracts and blockchains. In not too distant a future it might be possible to enter into a short 2 week contract with the team. (Please read my earlier post) Each developer gets automatically paid in cryptocurrency as their code passes all the automated tests and is deployed in production. At the end of the sprint we have the freedom to suitably modify the team composition by entering into a new set of smart contracts. This gives us the freedom to experiment and evaluation a few options.

What changed is our ability to enter into smaller , more frequent transactions without the need of a central aggregator such as a Bank or the Corporate HR department. Aggregators can’t economically work with shorter contracts and smaller payments because there is a fixed overhead associated with each contract and payment.

The table below shows a few more examples where such a change can occur.

Big Upfront Lean Experimental
Buying a car Sharing a ride- No aggregator such as Uber or credit card needed.
Buying Servers Virtual servers on the cloud can be rented on pay as you use basis- going forward there will be no need to use credit cards. Cloud provider will automatically receive their payment in cryptocurrency.
Buying heavy machinery Renting made possible by more details about usage, wear and tear and damage if any will get communicated by data streamed by IOT sensors
Launching a company to enter a new business with all the associated overheads Assembling a team loosely bound by smart contracts. Blockchain ensures compliance without the protection of corporate law
Group health insurance- healthy members pay more and those susceptible to health issues pay less. Claiming insurance is fraught with legalese embedded in fine print. Wearable devices communicate the current health status frequently enough that makes it possible for a healthcare provider to directly enter into a smart contract with the individual .

This new way of working has become even more possible because of recent advances in IOT which will enable digitalization of lot of information about the physical world. Broader acceptance of “shared economy” is pushing individuals to “rent & try” instead of “buy & regret”. All this works very well for those who think and work in the lean and agile way. It gives them the freedom to conduct experiments to validate their hypotheses before making a large commitment. It lowers the barrier to entry into businesses which were a territory exclusively reserved for the big corporations.

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