Diagnostic Parsimony. Or Not.

Occam’s razor says, roughly anyway, the simplest solution is likely the correct one. Hickam’s dictum says, roughly, and particularly in the medical world, don’t simplify too quickly as there may be multiple causes of your problem.

We have a tendency to be overwhelmed by the latter – so many things to look at, understand and do – and so reach quickly for the former: be agile. Go to cloud. Adopt product X. Do a reorganisation.

The real trick is to apply both, teasing out what the main contributors are, and then applying the solution that makes most sense and that will give the best return for effort expended.

The big problem comes when Occam’s Razor and the oxymoronic phrase “quick wins” are applied together. There are few simple solutions, they’re not quick and there isn’t much to win. If there was, they’d already have been done.

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