Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Optimized or Maximized?

When we talk about optimisation we often think of maximising the use of aircraft, airports, passenger loads, revenue, competitiveness. This kind of action stresses the system and makes it dysfunctional in many ways, including the overall performance and people involved in it.

In his post ‘Optimized or maximized?’ Seth Godin inspires us to see the cracks in our professional (and private) lives when keep pushing things to the maximum:

I once drove home from college at 100 miles an hour. It saved two hours. My old car barely made it, and I was hardly able to speak once I peeled myself out of the car.

That was maximum speed, but it wasn't optimum.

Systems have an optimum level of performance. It's the output that permits the elements (including the humans) to do their best work, to persist at it, to avoid disasters, bad decisions and burnout. 

One definition of maximization is: A short-term output level of high stress, where parts degrade but short-term performance is high.

Capitalism sometimes seeks competitive maximization instead. Who cares if you burn out, I'll just replace the part...

That's not a good way to treat people we care about, or systems that we rely on.

As a valuable contributor seeking to build a career, you benefit when you develop a unique asset, because that asset gives you the leverage to choose a niche in a system that respects optimization instead.