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Fire and forget missile

Fire and forget missile

From wikipedia, this is the actual definition of fire and forget – “Fire-and-forget is a type of missile guidance which does not require further external intervention after launch such as illumination of the target or wire guidance, and can hit its target without the launcher being in line-of-sight of the target.”

Working with different kinds of people, there are some kind of people who are just like fire and forget missiles. Once you give them a task (and more often they pick the task themselves), they make sure the task is done no matter what it takes and how many course correction they might have to do till they reach the target. It is so much fun and exciting to work with these kind of people. They are usually constant source of positive energy within the group (obviously, getting things done is fun)

This makes me wonder, how do we get better at this? Here are the list of things I feel which can improve this particular skill.

1. Extreme Ownership

In fact, one of our core values at HackerRank is ‘Extreme Ownership’, which is inspired from this book.

2. Growth = “No excuse” zone

This is an interesting story from Steve Jobs on when excuses matter and doesn’t matter.


While the ‘no excuse’ bar for Apple might be at the VP level, for startups and other smaller companies might start much earlier. I’ve seen even many interns operate at high extreme ownership. Zerodha’s Coin and Kite mobile apps are built and maintained by 2 devs (source)

3. Avoid ‘Beautiful Excuses’

This is a term I copied from Vivek.

There’s always a reason. There’s always an excuse for something to not get done. …… I call these “beautiful excuses”. They are well crafted logical excuses which makes you feel better & you move on from the problem. But 9/10 times, the real reason is different.

You can read the entire post here at http://www.rvivek.com/2017/02/05/beautiful-excuses.html. When you at find times not able to reach the target, it is important to identify if the actual reason you have in mind doesn’t come across as “beautiful excuse” for others (especially people you report to).

4. Velocity

Another common characteristics with these missiles are the velocity. They are usually fast and hate slow responses/processes/teams. This is my goto link for inspiration for moving fast. https://patrickcollison.com/fast

My three favourites from the list above are

JavaScript. Brendan Eich implemented the first prototype for JavaScript in 10 days, in May 1995. It shipped in beta in September of that year

iPod. Tony Fadell was hired to create the iPod in late January 2001. Steve Jobs greenlit the project in March 2001. They hired a contract manufacturer in April 2001, announced the product in October 2001, and shipped the first production iPod to customers in November 2001, around 290 days after getting started.

Apollo 8. On August 9 1968, NASA decided that Apollo 8 should go to the moon. It launched on December 21 1968, 134 days later. 

5. Build – An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

This is an amazing book for anyone trying to build something new, but this one page from the book summarises how to become a ‘missile’.

The goal (again image taken from the book) is move from the left image to right image as you start working in any organization.

Also, working around many ‘missiles’ makes you one. In fact, this is a sure shot way to become one. I’m glad that I have had a chance to work with so many “fire and forget missile” people at HackerRank.

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