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We have Gateau, Cheesecake and Fondue – Take two. What will it be monsieur?

Imagine you go to the most popular Swiss Hotel and you see a board like one above? Perplexing maybe. Unfair perhaps.  But that is life!

I came across an interesting photograph and I have adapted it using the diagram from the Wikipedia. We all want our services, our purchases and our deals to be Good, Cheap and Fast. Good signifies quality, Cheap defines the price and the Fast signifies the turnaround time for the goods.

Nature is very cruel. Perhaps that is why it has allowed man to get a glimpse of thermodynamics, which tells us order costs and disorder is easy. There is always a tradeoff. An 8 GB hard disk will have a usable space of perhaps 7.8GB. It has ruthlessly employed the concept of efficiency and 100% is always a myth.

Here too we cannot hope to have the G, C & F together. We can choose two at any time. As the diagram depicts, Good and Fast is not Cheap, Good and Cheap is not Fast, and finally Cheap and Fast is not Good.

No wonder we have phrases like quick and dirty, Beta release, Proof of Concept and so on.

In this internet world, my reading suggests that often we are ready to compromise on Good and focus on Cheap and Fast. Agile movement is one thing that comes to my mind. Remember that the Agile movement does not condone a bad job. It only says change will happen hence keep improving. The only point is that Good is achieved through the execution of many cycles or should I say many sprints of Cheap and Fast

It takes years to get to make G C F a tangible set and perhaps you never will and that is why the centre of the figure is null. Even nature is trying its best since the days of the Big Bang and beyond perhaps?



6 thoughts on “We have Gateau, Cheesecake and Fondue – Take two. What will it be monsieur?

  1. strangely, most country songs use CFG – three chord progression. in music world they have have been a tangible set.

    Posted by dhananjay | July 17, 2012, 4:30 pm
  2. the pictorial depiction implies that these categories are — if you’ll pardon the awkwardness of this phrase — categorical when, in reality, they are subjective and transient. what is good? and does something you once thought was good remain good forever? was it always good? does it remain good even if you take a long-term view? does everyone agree that it is good? even if they do, how long does that agreement hold? the problem with graphical depictions is that they create an illusion of clarity. and by inviting your reader to buy into that false premise with a neat little tricolour trick, you sucker him into swallowing the conclusion whole.

    but your simplification does have a point. it reminds me of an occasion when i think i made one of my many career-ending moves. i was part of a dozen or so people at a bar, sitting in a circle, moodily sipping on drinks of our choice, while one of the executives held forth on life, the universe, and everything. he cast his pearl of wisdom regarding project management before the assembled swine with a statement like “there is something like heisenberg’s principle that applies in project management: you can’t specify more than two out of scope, manpower, and timeline”. not knowing when to keep my mouth shut, i looked him in the eye and said, “the problem is that executives often think that planck’s constant is a decision variable.” in hindsight, not a wise move, don’t you think?

    Posted by narayan | July 17, 2012, 5:21 pm
    • Probably the application of this diagram, if possible, would be for each transaction. In hindsight the datum changes so the value attribute for each would change, you may tolerate less good or demand more, affordability may grow upwards and time – well time is relative….

      Posted by eswarann | July 17, 2012, 5:27 pm
  3. The idea of Good is actually linked to Quality and Quality can be expressed mathematically as

    Quality = Conformance To Requirements + Fitment to use.

    Usually due to Time (Fast) and Cost (Cheap) constraints some elements of scope (Good) get redefined.

    Note: It is not a reduction in quality but a redefinition of quality keeping in mind how long we can wait to get it and how much money we are ready to put into the effort.

    Continuing with that thought, my interpretation is that the center is not null. It signifies the point where all 3 merge as each element tends to infinity. In other words if you have unlimited time and unlimited money and desire a perfect product, it’s possible but you may not live long enough to see it.

    As Dhananjay points out it appears in written music too, and as we know accomplished musicians have achieved it in their lifetimes. Proof that Divine grace helps break the conundrum of reaching infinity.

    Posted by Sandeep | July 18, 2012, 11:55 am

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