Optimized And Perfect Are Not The Same

Life is funny. There seems to be no certain way to get everything you want. A key element of life is determining what matters to you most and getting more of that and less of something else that does not matter or matters only a little.

Satisfaction comes from comparing results with expectations. There are no absolutes. Try to understand the idea of tradeoffs and choose what you want with some care.

For example when shopping, the rule is Good-Fast-Cheap, pick any two.

Life is arranged in similar fashion. There are again three variables Money, Time and Energy. Again you get 2 of 3, although in this case it organized around time of life rather than the value of the product you receive.

Teenager – Time and energy but no money

Middle age – Money and energy but no time

Older – Money and time but no energy.

In designing manufacturing processes, you will find that if you make any part of the operation perfect, you will sub-optimize the overall process. The best processes have each part optimized, but in context of the whole, not by looking at the parts in isolation.

In the middle years a little less money and a little more time might be smart. In the later years using your limited energy to high purpose and trading some money to a high energy/low money teenager makes sense too.

Optimizing the whole is the goal in manufacturing and it probably works with life too. It is certainly a consideration with financial plans, especially inter-generational estate plans.

Satisfaction in life involves recognition of its inherent imperfection, understanding of its uneven distribution of resources and finding ways to balance the variables.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

don@moneyfyi.com | Twitter @DonShaughnessy | Follow by email at moneyFYI

2 Comments on “Optimized And Perfect Are Not The Same

  1. Good points. I’ve seen too many people hung up on “the most important thing.” My favorite example came when I was working on a project to enhance highway transportation using digital technologies. Everybody–the public, the DoTs, the truckers, transit–all agreed (which was unusual) on what was most important. Safety. No question. No compromise. The obvious solution–close all the roads.

    • A fine example of how a perfect solution to one aspect of the system results in a seriously suboptimal system. Thanks for adding to the discussion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: