It’s a tricky business. Optimisation is determined by the outputs vs inputs. It’s a fairly simple idea. The execution is challenging. Mostly because we don’t know what to measure.

Is a process optimised when its outputs are maximised for the available inputs? In theory, the answer is yes. In practice, the answer could be ‘no’. What is the consequence of the optimised process on the larger system? If it causes bottlenecks in other processes of the same system, the systemic efficiency goes down.

We optimise systems instead. How do we define a system? Does this include everything for the person paying the bill? What about the knock-on effects on the larger ecosystem?

It’s this thinking that brought us pesticides and genetically modified grains. It’s this thinking that produces drugs and black-market business.

If we are serious about optimisation, we need to consider the entire eco-system involved and affected by the systems and the processes we tinker with.

Just because it looks good on your department budget doesn’t mean the business is better of.

Martin Sanchez

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