If you look at the title, you will realize that it is not a simple title, particularly the first part. “Cut yourself out from the picture”. This is what the life insurance industry is based on. If you cut out yourself from the picture, what is your family going to do? The solution that the insurance industry came up with was – pay me money every month and I’ll pay your people back.
Now, that I have your attention, let’s look at the diagram of a toothbrush one more time, which we used to understand functional analysis in my last blog. Yes, a simple activity like brushing your teeth can actually be very complicated.
Trimming is the opposite of what we normally do, which is adding features or systems to solve problems. If you look at the ideal final result of a toothbrush, it really is the teeth being cleaned on its own. Let’s start trimming this system to see if we get elegant solutions. We’ll start with the farthest system object from the target – Handle.
Handle’s gone, so how in the world am I going to hold the head?
If you looked at the trimmed FAA map, first thing to notice is that the problem of handle damaging the gums is gone!
Rule 1 of trimming says – when you trim an object, trim its function as well. Eg – when handle goes, so does the function of holding the head, which automatically means that the head has to go as well.
Rule 2 says – when trimming an object, make sure the function is done by the same object that the function is being performed. In our example, the object of holding the head goes to the head. How can the head of the toothbrush hold itself? This is the problem statement for us to solve.If you think this is a nonsensical problem statement, it is time to chew your words. Just kidding 🙂 The chewable toothbrush took the hand out of the picture as well.
Image Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewable_toothbrush
Rule 3 says – when trimming an object, assign the function to something in the system or environment which does a similar function. Hand was given the task of moving the handle, now the holding and moving can be done on head.
Image courtesy: http://www.dandydogs.co.za/pKY00532/Pet-Dent—Finger-Brush.aspx
If you apply trimming one more time, you end up with just the bristles.
For our example, the bristles could be stuck on the finger and used as a toothbrush. In spite of my best googling efforts, am not able to locate a picture of a contraption that I had come across.
Now, the system looks so elegant, only bristles and toothpaste doing the job. If we examine most of our systems, they are so complex, eventually; ideality is a system which has maximum functions, but minimum parts to achieve that. No wonder, mobiles are so popular!
Now to conclude my 2 part series – draw out an FAA of your team or yourself in achieving a function. My guess is you are at least 3 to 4 steps away from the target function. But then, corporate solutions do demand a definite amount of effort.
What if you trim yourself out of the picture?
Think about it!