Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Consultant stories

Today I have some consultant stories.

Once upon a time there was a small company in the mid-west which ran into trouble with a chip it was designing. This chip had to be super-fast, and its design seemed flawless, but it refused to perform.

In desperation, they called in a consultant, who thought long and hard about the problem. Finally he came up with a design which would clearly work and which achieved around 90% of the speed of the problem-device. He presented his results to the client.

“But your design doesn’t achieve the 100% performance target which my design does!” complained the company’s lead designer.

The consultant exploded in exasperation.

“But your design doesn’t work!

“If we’re allowed to consider designs which don’t have to work, then trust me, I can get you a design which is a whole lot faster than yours!

"But of course, it won't actually work.”

The good news was that on the airplane home, the consultant had a bright idea which successfully delivered a design which did in fact meet his client’s target.


Yesterday I was swapping aphorisms with a colleague. Here was my candidate:

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.“

Friedrich von Schiller, German dramatist & poet (1759 - 1805).

Familiar but still good.

My colleague swiftly came back with:

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

Oscar Wilde, “An Ideal Husband (act II).