Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I optimize this (life-)system?”
“First, identify the components of the system. Make a list of them.
Second, identify the interconnections between the components. For instance you can actually draw lines between them, thus creating a network. This helps with evaluation.
The goal is to identify the 20% of components responsible for 80% of the output.“
“How would you practically do that?”
“One way to think of it is by using the top-down/bottom-up model.
The top-down approach means removing components until you’re left with only the desired ones. This is highly inefficient, because you have to remove 80% of components. The more components the system has, the more work it entails. Moreover, removing things is psychologically difficult.
The bottom-up approach means removing all components, and adding them back in one by one. This prompts a fresh reevaluation of each component, and often results in the serendipitous creation of new essential connections, thus creating a new emergent pattern.
I like to do it by using two lists. One with the components of the system; the other a ‘blank slate‘ which I populate by adding items from the other list.”
“Do you do this with pencil and paper?”
“You can, but I prefer to do it digitally. I use Google Keep for this process.
I have a section called ‘Optimization‘, in which there are two lists: one called ‘80‘, the other ‘20‘. I start by copying the contents of the system I’m working on in the 80-list. Then I start copying / moving items from the 80-list to the 20-list.”