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There Is No One Right Way

I was watching Rory Sutherland’s presentation at TED over the weekend and he said something that completely threw me for a loop. He was talking about the rail system back in the 90’s that took passengers from London to Paris. The operators of the line wanted to improve the service for their customers. So they put together two teams; a team of engineers and a team of marketing people.

The task…make trip more enjoyable

The marketing people thought of all kinds of ways to improve the user experience during trip – better food and drink, improved accommodations, all the things you would think a bunch of marketing people would consider when tasked with creating a great user experience.

Guess what the engineers came up with?

They determined that the best way to make the trip more enjoyable was to get people from point A to point B faster.

I fell off my chair!

As a marketing guy, I would have never considered in a million years their proposal. Sure, I might have suggested improving ticketing or the on-board /off-board process, but the words would have never come out of my mouth to just get the train there quicker!

The point is – there is more than one way to skin that damn cat!

And there is more than just one right way. Sure, my way would have worked too, but something so simple (not that engineering a bullet train is simple) yet so elegant in concept is a work of art to me. But there is an entire principle based on the fact that under normal circumstances, the simplest explanation or act is often the right one. Its called Occam’s Razor, and you can read about it here if you want.

Which way would you have gone?

If I asked you which way you think, like the engineer or the marketing guy, I bet you would say the engineer. You would almost have to simply by occupation right? Let me know which camp you fell into and why in the comments below.

Photo credit: iwalk.jp