Optimizing the Unnecessary

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - 07:01

There's an old expression about the futility of "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." The point being that when there are more important and/or urgent items to address, such as a huge gaping hole on a sinking ship, it is utterly useless to focus on something as unnecessary as deck chair positions.

We all optimize the unnecessary from time to time because the urgent and/or important are invisible. Months may pass in a relationship before one member realize how much they hurt someone else. A business may face bankruptcy because it's focusing on the day to day details of the business when its model itself is flawed. It's counter-intuitive, but sometimes a glaring error or significant incident, as painful as it may be, surfaces the issue so that it can be addressed... ideally, before it's too late.

Eliyahu Goldratt is attributed with saying "all optimizations outside of the bottleneck are an illusion". So before any progress can be made on making a difference, it's important to take the time to identify what is necessary and what is the bottleneck. It's not only obvious, but it's critically important. Only then and there will you make the biggest impact.

PS. If you work in the tech and/or software development industries, you may find my recent article in the Drupal Watchdog magazine, Busting the Bottleneck, to be value. It goes in more depth and provides some additional advice on how to identify and resolve bottlenecks in an organization.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: Chief Product Officer of DRUD Tech. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.