Friday, April 10, 2009

What price sophistication?

A guy in our local network of Lean companies told me of an interaction he had recently with an exec at his company.  In short, he was tracking the short-term status of one inventory item which had been giving them fits.  To do this, he checked the inventory level at the close of business each day and wrote it down on a sheet of paper to see the trend.
The exec saw this sheet of paper and became quite agitated, bewildered why he didn't use a particularly unwieldy piece of software the company had.  My inventory-tracking friend didn't know quite how to respond and the awkward interaction concluded, unsettled. 
This story reminded me, strangely enough, of Occam's razor.  A 14th century philosopher and friar, William of Occam is said to have first postulated this "razor" (olde-speak for "rule of thumb") to guide decision making.  Translated in numerous ways, it essentially says "when confronted with multiple solutions to a problem, choose the simplest one."  
We have more tools for data and communication than any generation has ever had.  Properly used, they are awesome and speed good decisions. 
Properly used.
Often, a simple pen and paper is all we need to solve a problem.  That's what William of Occam had.  And we're still talking about him. 

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