Occam’s Razor In Business Problem Solving


Occam’s razor states that the simplest solution is usually the best solution. Occam’s razor is in full effect with business problem solving. Do not over complicate a solution. I worked at a plant that assembled computers from computer parts that can be found off the shelf. The factory that was designed was very complex with lots of automation and miles of conveyor with an ASRS (automatic storage and retrieval system) to hold incomplete orders that were not complete. The productivity was roughly 1.5 computers per hour per employee. Not bad but most computer savvy people can replicate the same feet or better at home without all the extra equipment.

The company then when through a Lean transformation and Occam’s razor came into full effect. If it wasn’t the simplest solution we didn’t use it. After gutting all the equipment, removing the ASRS, and streamlining the entire process the productivity shot up to over 3 units per hour per employee. By shifting to the simplest solution we were able to double productivity. With a Lean transformation productivity gains are not the goal but a by product of doing the right things. Perform a culturally correct Lean transformation and you will see positive results. This also translates to smaller everyday problems.

At a veterinary clinic we had issues with missing crucial steps when checking in patients that lead to rework the next day to fix errors. The fixes would typically take around 1-2 hours to fix. There were many solutions the staff came up with but the two that stood out were a checklist and a fully automated solution. The fully automated solution would require significant capital time while the checklist could be implemented the next day and costs virtually nothing. We decided to implement a check-in and check-out checklist to verify all the tasks were being followed. This simple solution reduced errors to virtually zero. It also allowed to help with cross-training other employees in the clinic and help train new employees quicker.

Keep your solutions simple but also implement your ideas. A partial solution implemented 100% is better than a full solution implemented 0%. With implementation you get information with information you can improve solutions. Keep your solutions simple and experiment with solutions.

Keep It Super Simple (KISS)