Not More.

A friend wrote a blog post about processing efficiency of manual toll gates versus the automated, drive-through toll gates in Gurgaon. It’s an interesting post, with a surprising conclusion to the core query – which of the two options is more efficient.

However, the last statement in that post kind of surprised me:

What we need in Gurgaon are more roads. More than five times the number of roads as there are today. That’s when people will see an improvement in our daily commutes.

Delhi has vehicle ownership rates of 85 per 1000 people. And yet a 16-lane toll gate has a 12 minute wait. If ownership rates in Delhi quintuple, still a fair bit below developed country numbers, even a 5x increase in roads won’t be anywhere close to sufficient1. More is not a solution.

The solution lies elsewhere – a huge increase in quality mass-transit public transport networks, congestion charging, strict cap on number of cars allowed on roads, alternate date car travel, others, or a combination there of.

We notice this frequently. ‘More’ is frequently provided as a solution when there is no direct cost of providing more, while finding a real, complex solution has a direct cost. More is a lazy man’s solution.

Every time that a user/customer complains of not getting sufficient throughput, the answer, more often than not, is that they need more servers, more space, or more something else. Something that will cost them more money, yet wouldn’t require much effort from us. Yes, we could’ve spent a few days tweaking the code to get out a little more throughput for them from the current servers. But that would require an effort from us. More doesn’t.

Every time the system slows down, your family IT guy will tell you that you need more RAM, or a better CPU with more processing capacity. Why? Because that’s the easy, lazy answer. She could spend a few hours with your system, removing all the crapware, running disk utilities, or (at worse) reformatting and reinstalling the operating system. But that takes effort and time. More is easy.

When that mentee, or interviewee, asks for feedback on how to improve his output, the answer given is usually work harder, spend more time, read more. To give proper feedback would require homework on part of the mentor – study appraisal reports, structure thoughts, engage2 in a discussion. But more is easy. A preserve of the lazy.

More, in these and other similar cases, is actually less. And less is more.

Continue reading Not More.