Generalization is Good

Consider two possible solutions to the same problem. One of them solves just that particular problem, but takes less time and money to do. The other takes more time and money to complete, but solves a class of problems similar to the original. Which is preferable?

Obviously, without more details on what exactly the costs and benefits of each approach are, there isn’t a canonical solution to this problem. However, I will argue that when in doubt, one should prefer the more general solution.

From a purely short-term perspective, the cheaper option probably yields just as much return for less initial investment. But more often than not, the problems in the future will be similar to the problems of today. And a more general solution will save increasingly large sums of time and money.

In addition, a more general solution can be contributed or sold to the public or other organizations who have similar problems. This saves everyone’s time and encourages more innovation.

This, I hope, is a principle that’s easily applied to both life and business.

Advertisements