Friday, September 9, 2011

We call that government

I was reading this post about QANTAS having to stop on the way from Dallas to Brisbane to refuel several times since starting the "nonstop" service. The service is "direct" from DFW to Sydney - which in the strained parlance of the travel industry means it isn't direct, it just means that you have the same flight number all the way, regardless of the number of stops. But I digress...

The posting got me to thinking about the diminishing returns when you add overhead. To fly further, you have to add more fuel. But adding more fuel doesn't give you a linear increase. You have to add more fuel to compensate for the fuel you had added to make you fly further... At the limit, all you do is fly a plane with just fuel and the necessary flight crew. Nothing useful comes of it - except the corner cases where you are testing limits on purpose. The focus is wrong. It isn't about getting the plane there (again some corner cases like getting the plane to a warzone), it's about getting the passengers and freight there.

The mission gets mangled if the focus on the plane not the passengers or freight.
Similarly in many corporations, if we consider the "running of the compnay" to be equivalent to the fuel, then as we add more "running the company" "resources" so we get diminishing returns.

Eventually we have a company that is dedicated to just running itself, does nothing useful, but everyone is busy.

We call that government