5 responses to “Weekend Journal — Dealing With Non-Optimized Solutions”

  1. Steve Hoefer

    Oh absolutely. Just thinking about how I hate pairing socks out of the dryer will chain into a plan to revolutionize medecine, government, and economics. You know, if I’m going to do it right. Given enough time brainstorming new product features I will eventually create a Dyson sphere.

    But I don’t think it’s inherently dangerous or useless. Great ideas and clever solutions can come out of that free sky thinking. turns out I don’t need a Dyson sphere, I just need to put an M4 nut on the back of it. But I don’t know if I would have figured that out if I hadn’t gone past the Dyson sphere.

    But knowing when to get off the imaginary rocket and get things done can be hard. Especially since imaginary rocket ships are so much more fun than evaluating M4 nuts.

  2. David Bley

    Product design is loaded with these optimization issues. Cost vs performance vs project schedule vs production issues and every design is a compromise and therefore not optimal.

    Along with the electronic keyboard and headphones, might I suggest a sound booth for recording instead of trying to make an entire room soundproof. There used to be commercially available soundbooths with provision for climate control.

  3. Frank Buss

    I first thought this would be really a problem with the acoustic piano in the picture, but when you mentioned headphones I thought what’s wrong with it? There are comfortable ones which you can wear for hours without problems, I do this too, when I practice ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqGxLZwooxg ).

    I know this desire to make things optimal, like trying to use the cheapest microcontroller which can just handle the required task. But it doesn’t make sense, if you don’t sell millions of it, because usually it needs much more work for software. And then later the client changed the requirement “we need a web interface, should be simple, right? Even my router has it” :-)
    As the previous commenter said, it is always a compromise. Don’t spend too much time optimizing.

  4. Taylor Michaels

    In this world are engineers and real engineers. You are obviously the latter.

    It is a great feeling to come up with a solution which solves all the problems at a bargain price. It is something real engineers strive for.

    But, sometimes a great solution just doesn’t exist. I recently toyed with the idea of writing Chemical Engineering apps. I developed a great plan for apps on a Kindle, but a friend pointed out that he didn’t know anybody who did engineering on a Kindle. I think I’ve given it up. Or at least it’s on the back burner until some new technology comes along.

    To Steve Hoefer, I say that all my socks are black and made by the same company. One year, I threw all my socks out and got a set of new ones. Two years later, I did the same. Problem solved. Do all engineers hate sorting socks?

    I have just finished the third addition to my house and adding a new small outbuilding which looks like a garage is not that hard. But the headphones are definitely the way to go. Also, get your wife a hobby which gets her out of the house.

  5. ferd

    Brainstorming has its place, but you’re right that it can lead to analysis paralysis. You have to recognize when you have your Minimum Viable Product, and focus the team on it until you at least have a viable prototype.

    Watch out for scope creep. If it enters the brainstorming process then you can get off-track quickly. It will surely surface when you demonstrate your Minimum Viable Product, but again you’ve got to keep your signed contract requirements (or project objectives) in focus. There comes a time when you’ve got to tell your engineers that yes, your new ideas are great but they’ll have to wait until Version 2.