All articles

Defying the Production Triangle: There is No Spoon

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
(From The Matrix)

The production triangle is a concept related to all production (goods or services). It is taught in every business related class and defines the relationship between time, quality, and cost. This model of constraints has been around in one form or another for as long as humans started creating. If you are not familiar with the production triangle, you aren’t alone, but the concept is simple.


The ideal production triangle.

This diagram consists of a triangle and at each point an attribute of production. Quality. Cost. Time. The only rule. Pick TWO.  The chances of having all three simultaneously are highly unlikely, so to be as realistic as possible, pick two.


Producing something quickly of high quality will be expensive.

For example, you want the product to have quality, and you want it in a short amount of time. That leaves out cost, meaning to achieve the results you are requesting your cost will be higher.  Since the results you are requesting demand that quality not be sacrificed in a shortened amount of time.


Producing something quickly and cost-effectively will sacrifice its quality.

Let’s say you choose cost (produced cheaply), and time (produced quickly). That leaves out quality, meaning the end result will be of lesser quality.

Now in an ideal world all three attributes are achieved, but in reality you can only pick two. Three tips the scales and something must be sacrificed – meaning that you will always only be left with two. The question then becomes, aren’t rules meant to be broken, or at least bent? The answer is YES!

Once it is realized that there is no spoon, the question is clear. As stated above, “…it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” So, how do you bend the rules you have control over, so that all three can be achieved? The answer actually contains two solutions. The right people and the right technology.

Finding the right people can be challenging but proves beneficial time and time again in proving there is no spoon. At Centerline we hire smart, talented, driven people who are always looking to push the bar. People who understand the importance of staying ahead of trends and becoming trend makers, all while fitting in with the culture of our business, an extremely important trait that is sometimes overlooked.  People passionate about their craft and understanding the content — the ones who dive deeper because of personal drive — tend to create content of greater quality.

Once you have the right people, the right technology to support them becomes just as important. For Centerline this concept comes in many forms. Everything from state of the art end-user tools to extremely fast servers and storage. Including our own local render-farm running on an IBM PureFlex System. Our render-farm allows our animators to see results in minutes versus hours, ultimately creating an opportunity to view more iterations of their projects and in turn produce a more polished product in less time.


Now back to the production triangle.

The right people + the right technology affect positively two of the three production triangle attributes. Time and quality. When the rules are bent (there is no spoon) and the concept is applied to the production triangle it is proven that a more visually interesting, accurate and precise product is delivered to the client, in less time, without costing a fortune.

Although it is nearly impossible to have all three attributes in the production triangle, the right people and the right technology can help enhance the end result.