This section is my chance to exercise a little editorial comment on good business and technology habits. I call the following list my Axioms, because I try to live by them as stringently as possible. These axioms have evolved over time and I am sure many of you have heard them before. Please don’t take them lightly, you will be amazed how apropos they are to every day business and personal life.
|1. If it's Not Broken Don't Fix it.
When upgrading hardware, software, systems etc., the motivation should be the substantial improvement of productivity and/or quality of output. Upgrading or changing systems for the sake of change or because it’s bigger or better, presents substantial risks to production and often costs more than the benefit.
2. The 90/10 Theory
When designing manual and automated systems, you get 90% of the benefits out of 10% of the effort. To get the extra 10% benefit, it takes 90% more effort. In that last 10% benefit (often bells and whistles) rests all your profit, time, failure and complexity.
3. Pioneers Get Arrows in their Backs
While it might be neat, cool and Tim Allenish to always be the first with the biggest and best, you must be fully aware of the trials and tribulations that may await you. In today's computer environment of rapid advancements in technology and the never ending need to upgrade, products are often coming to market before they are free from bugs and defects. Our general policy is not to perform a major upgrade or buy new technology until it is in the market place at least 1 year.
4. The KISS Principle
Keep It Simple Stupid is the most often forgotten principle in system design. The best systems are those that can perform the tasks with the least hardware, software and/or personnel resources. The more complicated and "state of the art" the system becomes, the greater the potential for waste, training excesses, errors, omissions and support. You can change a light bulb with one person holding the bulb and another turning the lamp, but isn't it easier to just use two hands?
5. There is No Substitution for Management
There are many great management theories of how empowering employees with the authority to self direct and self motivate will improve both quality and quantity of production. Early management theorists used "Management by Committee" and "Quality Circles" as the foundation for success. In the mid 80's and early 90's the Japanese refined the process and looked as though they were going to prove the Theorists correct. However; what looked like excellent management theory may be proving to be pure good luck and fortune as the Asian markets continue to tumble in a natural cyclical motion and the excesses of success in Japan continues to prove disastrous to their economy. Perhaps the politician, Harry S. Truman, stated it most succinctly with the motto he kept on his desk "The buck stops here", but being associated with business for many years, we like our version better.
6. RTFM - Read The F'n (Fun?) Manual
Established by technicians long ago and now used heavily on the net, this axiom is the least followed by most computer users (including me). This axiom is so often referred to that there is now an FTP site at MIT dedicated to RTFM FAQs located at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs . While we have grown accustomed to poorly written documentation, or no documentation, usually you will find the answer to most situations in the manual. Before calling support (which now costs over $100/hour), take a few minutes to Read The Manual.