This cringeworthy business meme keeps popping up on my LinkedIn feed every so many months, and it never fails to infuriate and disappoint me with the utter lack of critical thinking of those who repost it.
Where is the concept of diminishing returns here? Is a 1% improvement possible forever and ever? Can such a pace be sustained?
Sure. I get the gist. It’s alluringly simple. Compounding returns, and all that.
…but the pseudomathematical underpinnings of the implied model of continuous improvement are not only wrong but positively unrealistic.
Continuous Improvement is rarely, if ever, steady and continuous in relative magnitude compared to the previous period.
No… it’s a series of wins and setbacks at an uneven pace, as it includes exploration and exploitation in uneven bouts impacted by serendipity and human ingenuity.
So the gist of it is: “improve little by little and you will reach great things eventually. Let things get worse and they will corrode irreparably.”
The gist is “duh!”
The math is nonsense.
The model is bunk.
Let’s not promote the obvious, the nonsensical, and that which makes us feel good without actually delivering any deep insight.
And don’t use mathematics to make the simple look profound.
Simplicity is profound all by itself, without compounding.