Don’t Optimize What Shouldn’t Be Done

I’ve been on a systems thinking kick lately and just finished reading Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows. Near the end, she quotes economist Kenneth Boulding:

Don’t go to great trouble to optimize something that never should be done at all.

What a wonderful reminder. I don’t know about you, but I frequently find myself going to great lengths to optimize myself in order to fit somewhere, to make something work. Without stepping back to ask—should I be engaging with this at all? Is this helping me get to where I want to go?

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds. It’s hard—but so very important—to ask if those weeds are worth the effort in the first place.