05 May 2011

70 > 0

Good morning and welcome to Math With Dan, the fun blog where we learn important math facts.

Today's Important Math Fact is this:

70 > 0

Everyone with me so far? Great! Let's say it together: 70 > 0. Very good!

My 2nd grade daughter just came in and read over my shoulder. She laughed and said "Everybody already knows this!" And then she saw me write about her reaction and it got all meta. So I had to go make pancakes for breakfast.

OK, I'm back. Let's talk for a moment about why is it important to understand that 70 > 0.

You see, a lot of times people talk about delivering "the 70% solution," as if it was some poor alternative to the 100% solution. But that's the wrong comparison. When we take time into account (and we should ALWAYS take time into account), what we're really talking about is delivering a 70% solution now instead of a 0% solution now.

The cool thing about a 70% solution is that it delivers far sooner than the hypothetical 100% solution. So when we compare the two approaches, the 70% solution delivers something within a timeframe where the 100% solution delivers nothing. While the 100% solution is still being designed, the 70% solution can actually be fielded and used.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear someone talk about the 70% solution. It may not be 100%, but it's certainly better than nothing.


Rex said...

I like it. Sometimes it just takes a different angle to help us see things differently.


To me your thoughts are in line with the concepts Seth Godin talks about in his best sellers, Poke the Box and Linchpin. Sometimes it's better to launch and fail often so you can get to success quicker. But 'fail' doesn't usually mean complete failure, it's probably the 70% solution you suggested.

Which, in your terms is not failure at all, but 70% more than zero. 'Zero' in terms of making change and progress sounds like complete failure to me.

The Dan Ward said...

Hey, thanks Rex! I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin and any similarities are surely due to his influence. :)


Patrick said...

There's probably an inflection point in the curve between time (on the X-axis) and % completeness of solution (on the Y-axis) at 70% complete. And then the curve shifts to an asymptotic relationship where time increases indefinitely only yielding diminishing returns in terms of increase in % solution.

Rogues: convince your friend to try "Fast Fail!" you just might like it.

Haven’t practiced TRISZ enough but I love the concept. Also - praying for you in Afghanistan. See if you can bring back an afghan (blanket) to put on the davenport (sofa/couch). That's the way my dad talks - growing up on a farm in the North Country.