The Myth of the One Right Answer

Improvement Insights Blog

The Myth of the One Right Answer

In school, they always made you search for the one right answer. In real life, things are rarely that simple. There are often many right answers. Here’s how to choose the best among those:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“I don’t know about you, but in school – first grade all the way through college – it seemed like they were preaching that there was always one right answer to a question. You had to get that one right answer to be able to get a hundred percent on your test (unless it was an essay thing, and then that was a different thing). Most things had a right answer and everything else was a wrong answer.

“But I’ve noticed in real life there are always multiple right answers; some are better than others, but there’s never necessarily just one right answer. So what do we have to do? We have to look at all the various possibilities and maybe we have to try some of them on, prototype them, test them out, see if this works or that works or something else works. Does this make sense?

“This is why they’re called “countermeasures” and not “solutions,” right? We’ve got to try out our countermeasures, and if some are less expensive, great; let’s go with the less expensive one. For some reason, I’ve been looking at Occam’s razor, which says that the simplest solution is probably the best solution. Very often it doesn’t cost a lot of money and doesn’t take a lot of… whatever.

“We’ve been hardwired about this “one right answer,” so I want you to go out and look for multiple right answers. Figure out which one is the simplest, easiest, best, most affordable of those things, and then try it and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, try something else… this is not rocket surgery.

“So let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle-free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”