Cover page by Jurgen Appelo

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Chapter 1. Why Things Are Not That Simple

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

—H.L. Mencken, journalist, writer (1880–1956)

On paper, I was once a millionaire. Informal investors valued my Internet start-up at 10 million Euros, and I owned 70 percent of the financial fiction they created around me. I was even awarded the title of Entrepreneur of the Year,1 because I was so good at conveying my vision. And my colorful diagrams of expected revenues and profits looked fabulous, on paper.

But the money that the investors and I put in did not result in more profits. The extra content we created did not bring more visitors to our site. The programmers we hired did not significantly increase our speed of ...

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