Made popular by the Seinfeld television series, the Soup Man restaurant in New York City demands that customers know what kind of soup they want before arriving at the counter. Signs are prominently displayed, stating the rules in several languages:
FOR THE MOST EFFICIENT AND FASTEST SERVICE
THE LINE MUST BE KEPT MOVING
Pick the soup you want!
Have your money ready!
Move to the extreme left after ordering!
Failure to follow these rules may result in the harshest of penalties — no soup for you!
Like the Soup Man restaurant, the optimization process is not well suited to those who don’t have a clear set of goals in mind. Continue reading →
High school tryouts. College recruiting. Pro draft day. At every level of athletics, coaches face a tough pre-season decision. Select player A, a better than average athlete who has worked diligently for many years to maximize his potential under the tutelage of top coaches. Or choose player B, whose present skill level is not quite as high but who has greater raw athletic ability, is coachable and has real potential to be a superstar – a trait that coaches call “upside.”
A similar situation occurs in product development when selecting between two competing design concepts. A more optimized version of concept A may appear better than a version of concept B that has not been optimized. But concept B may have a lot more potential for improvement, a bigger upside.
The performance of a single example of a concept is not usually a good measure of the concept itself.
How optimized is concept A? What level of performance could be attained by concept B? We seldom know the answers to these questions prior to performing an optimization study. Continue reading →