Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique

“In other words, once something is good enough to do the job it's designed for, the worst thing you can do is to keep delaying its release till it's perfect. A related idea is that once it's good enough, you've probably got more important things to do than to keep tweaking the little imperfections. People who aren't satisfied with good enough sabatogue their own efforts by failing to benefit from the good enough work that they do."
from a site about website development

Do the simplest thing that could possibly work.

There is a sweet spot in setting standards. Too low or too high can be disastrous.

TheBestIsTheEnemyOfTheGood does not promote mediocrity, it (paradoxically) promotes the best that can be done in a given situation. Sometimes we aim very high -- unrealistically high. When the dust settles, we find that we would have done better if we would have aimed lower!

With regards to yesterday's grid meeting, it is my thinking that you all fall well enough within the ballpark to have teachers do the same exercise as we did yesterday. Keep in mind the "resolution" issue. We're working with the equivalent of a low resolution microscope (not very good). Improving resolution (i.e., improving the precision of the performance expectations, attaching rubrics, including student work, etc.) should always be part of our school-improvement plan. But school improvement plans should not be mixed up with getting to work NOW with what we've got at the resolution we currently have.

Year One: No grids at all. Just credit for classes.
Year Two: No grids in use. Beginning to be developed in performance expectations. Credit was again given for classes or teacher discretion in Explorations.
Year Three:
Semester One: Mapping past credits onto grids just as a record-keeping exercise.
Semester One and Two: Roughly trying to capture current work and working dynamically with grids to get work recorded onto grids.

[years of intervening work]

Some day in the future: Students have complete control over their progress using the performance expectations (rewritten with precision) and the grids to move towards graduation.

Don't lose sight of this being a process and don't demand more, especially if it hurts the students, that the tool is not refined enough to deliver. At the same time, keep developing school improvement plans that will refine the tool.

Hope that makes sense.


1 comment:

SAM said...

HerbertSimon got a Nobel prize for economics for the more general case of "satisficing" - working on something until you have a good enough resolution, then stop (as opposed to the alternative of assuming people look at all options and evaluate each one for effectiveness, picking the best).

Professor Simon challenged the classical economic theory that economic behavior was essentially rational behavior in which decisions were made on the basis of all available information with a view to securing the optimum result possible for each decision maker.

Instead, Professor Simon contended that in today's complex world individuals cannot possibly process or even obtain all the information they need to make fully rational decisions. Rather, they try to make decisions that are good enough and that represent reasonable or acceptable outcomes.

He called this less ambitious view of human decision making "bounded rationality" or "intended rational behavior" and described the results it brought as "satisficing."