When a big freight train is standing still, even a small block of wood in front of it’s wheel will keep it from moving forward. Once it gets some speed though, that same train can be very hard to stop.
I’ve always struggled with this. It is way easier to make incremental changes — even large changes — to an old project than to do work on something that has barely started.
I pointed this effect out on a call with a friend of mine recently. He had joined someone else’s dev team long after the product’s foundation was built and all of the rules were laid down. There are pros and cons to his situation. On the plus side, it is way easier to iterate 10% on an established codebase. But the psychological downside is that he often feels like he’s been hired to write the missing chapters of a famous dead author’s final book. He doesn’t really own it.
It was refreshing to compare his situation to my own since my next startup’s train hasn’t even pulled out of the station yet. I’m not worried. Soon I will have momentum.