Everyone has a plan until….

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
Mike Tyson

The great thing about Engineers is the solution is always black and white. It has to be perfect or it’s not complete.

Well, I’m a qualified Engineer, but I’m not qualified to be an Engineer by these generalisations. You’re probably sick of hearing me talk about the Pareto Principle in OSS – where 80% of the impact is delivered by 20% of the effort and the other 20% of the impact takes up 80% of the effort.

I’m a big believer in tackling the 80 for 20, then moving on to the next 80 for 20 opportunity, then the next*. That may sound half-baked to many of the Engineers in the audience but I have three pieces of evidence with which I hope to sway you:

  1. There are so many challenges still remaining in OSS that getting stuck on the asymptote of negligible gain is a waste;
  2. There are so many variants in OSS, particularly where legacy environments prevail, that you’ll never be able to build the perfect OSS solution or control every variable; but most importantly
  3. The cleverest solutions don’t seek perfection, but resiliency… engineering the solution to have the ability to cope with any unexpected or unusual situations… having the ability to revise your plan after you’ve been punched in the mouth

* Of course there are situations where it’s important to commit to the 20 for 80 opportunities sometimes too, but these situations tend to be rarer.

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2 Responses

  1. My experience in a number of industries with engineering and risk-management solutions supports your view in greater than 80% of the situations I’ve faced.
    The important decision is agreement on , and specification of, those factors that are to be within scope and agreement on those to be excluded together with a short rationale for their exclusion. In that way, new factors and possible variations can be assessed using a cost/performance benefits approach and then added or posted to the exclusions list.

    I do pay particular attention to mission and safety-critical requirements before seeking agreement on how best to classify them. Sometime the uncertainty*consequence rating means they must be addressed for little operational gain.

    David J

  2. Hi David,

    Great supplementary information! I like your approach. Thanks for sharing.


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