Thursday, August 26, 2010

KISSing Gets You There First

There is always more than one way to achieve a goal. To me, the way that gets the job done the fastest, and by default the easiest, will always win out against all other methods.

In other words, 'Keep It Simple Stupid' will let you beat anyone in business.

I was recently watching Nova and they were talking about the development of dinosaurs into birds. The title was actually "the four winged dinosaur".

There was a discovery of a fossil that was essentially a four winged dinosaur which was hypothesized to be down the evolutionary chain of modern birds.

Two very different people studied this crow-sized fossil (of what has come to be known as Microraptor) with the goal of making a 3D full-sized model of it.

The first 'artist' carefully and meticulously measured the fossil with a micrometer down to the nearest hundredth of a millimeter and transferred those measurements recreating the bones in that exacting detail in a piece of carved plastic (if I remember correctly).

It took him thousands of hours to transmute each flattened fossil's bone into a 3D real world skeleton.

He probably went through at least 5 bottles of insanity pills because each time he was talking about it, he would twitch and looked like he was having flashbacks.

Then there was another guy -- a scientist that REALLY wanted to see what this Microraptor would have looked like. He didn't want to wait a million years for this artist to either finish his model or go insane doing so.

So he made a mold of the fossil, cast it in plastic and pretty well just cut out the pieces of the jigsaw to assemble it in three dimensions.

I mean what could have been more simple? Brilliantly simple.

There was a big debate about how the artist's model may have been more accurate and changed many assumptions but in the end, it didn't matter. They got to see what the thing looked like and later shoved it in a wind tunnel to make more assumptions.

Either model would have worked for this.

So what was my point?

The scientist's simple skeleton got pretty close to the same result as the artist's ultra precise, took-like-forever model.

The product of perfection is that nothing gets done.

I always used to tell my team that 'simplicity is elegant'. It is a 3 hour piece of software that solves 95% of people's problems instead of a 3 year 'project' that solves 100%.

Keep it simple!