Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Right Tool

From time to time I read Seth Godin's blog. Which is unsurprising, I suppose, given that I link to it from here. In any event, I popped over today and read his post on tools, "All or nothing." The basic point, that it's better to buy the right tool for the job, and complete the job, than to buy the wrong tool, and leave the job unfinished, out of being penny wise but pound foolish, is sound. But while it may be better to spend more than one initially expected to obtain the correct tool, what most people are on the lookout for is spending more than they need to.

And I think where most people run into problems is in attempting to gauge how much they need to spend to get the job done. Because while it's correct that the results of tool use are not linear, that works both ways. While spending too little to obtain any result at all is a waste of time and money, spending the money to buy a tool that is significantly better than what's needed can also be a waste of money; once the job is done, all of it, there's nothing more to do. So a tool that can produce results that go above and beyond the call of duty is only useful if there is value in going above and beyond. Which creates a more complex calibration problem than simply making sure that the slope from undone to done is successfully surmounted.

And I think that the problem that most people have is that the extra expenditure that goes into purchasing a tool that's more right for the job than it needs to be becomes an expense, rather than an investment. And so it's better for them to use a tool that just gets the task done than, and skip the cost of the better tool.

There are, of course, multiple solutions to the problem (to the degree that it is a problem). Being expert at making the calibration is one solution; having a plan to increase the level of job tackled in the future is another. And I'm sure that there are others; these are just the two that immediately occur to me. And I think that it's these skills that people need. Most people who use tools understand the risks of leaving the job undone. But they also understand the risks of overpaying to complete the job. Mitigating the second also mitigates the first.

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