Optimization



I am a Fixer. An Optimizer.

Last Friday I posted the Peter Drucker quote:

"There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all."

I was trying to look up the exact wording for this quote (there seem to be several versions of it, he either said it multiple ways, or has been misquoted, – I liked the version I posted best). In the process I found several other quotes that resonated with me, and deemed the results to be worthy of their own post.

If I have to do a task once, I can usually just leave it at that. But if it's something that I find interesting, or I have to do it multiple times, I begin looking for inefficiencies – and ways to eliminate them. It seems logical, and it amazes me that this isn't a trait embodied by more people.

It's incredibly satisfying to eliminate busy-work or to speed up a process significantly, but that can't compare to the feeling of accomplishment when an optimization involves changing something upstream and eliminating the process entirely.

When you have a habit of "fixing" or "making things better" you run into some odd resistance though. People are oddly set in their ways, they become attached to processes and actions. It's far too common for a "this will cut your time required to do this in half" to be met with hostility. It seems that, for the most part, people care less about how to do things better than they do about "this is how we've always done it".

The attachment to process is bizarre. To me, most things can be treated like programming functions/methods/API calls: you give a system input, it does something, it gives you output. The input and output are all that really matter, if you have code that takes 1 second to "do something" and code that takes 10 seconds and both give the correct answer, you go with the most efficient algorithm (in most cases). Done. … but even in that example you could run into resistance from programmer/s that are emotionally tied to the less efficient code.

I would encourage anyone reading this to look at your daily processes, assume they are stupidly inefficient, and look for ways to improve them. We all become attached to actions that we repeat regularly, and it's hard to see things for what they are.

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1 Comment »

  1. Joe (8 comments) said,

    We fear change.

    http://youtu.be/1TtGQnyPZ6g

    July 30, 2013 @ 10:41 am


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