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  July 30, 2010
Good, Better and Best...

 
This weekend is being spent with my girlfriend Susan and our three teenage children. 
 
We’re on a road-trip up to Northern California to visit several college campuses.  The five of us are planning to visit eleven universities over the course of our four days, including five campuses of the University of California (UC) and 4 campuses of the California State University (CSU) and two private universities. 
 
Now one might think that this is fairly good representation of the colleges in California, however I recently discovered that there are in actuality, 391 accredited colleges and university in California alone and over 4,200 such places of study in the U.S.
 
Tens of thousands of dollars will be spent over a four-year span sending our children to a selected college knowing only a very small percentage of the total alternatives.  Why do we opt to make important choices after only examining a very few options?
 
A few days ago I was having lunch with our company’s accountant exploring this very idea.  I had approached him with a problem and several plausible solutions.  He asked me some very intelligent questions about my objectives and risk tolerance and then proposed an entire list of options that I hadn’t even thought about.  We then took some time to assess the merits of the alternatives and then chose a course of action.
 
When I returned back to the office, I had some further discussions with some of our team members and discovered even more possible solutions to the problem at hand.  After calling back my accountant, we determined that one of the later options was in fact the best solution and decided to change course to the new alternative.
 
Now I’m sure that additional options may have presented themselves later on but sometimes a company needs to make a decision rather than fall into the "paralysis by analysis" syndrome where no decisions are made because there may be better solutions somewhere out there.
 
Most every day mundane decisions are made haphazardly without much thought.  However some decisions require a good deal of thought and analysis to determine the best possible solution.  The limiting factor for most of our decision making comes from the lack of viable alternatives (not that the alternatives are lacking...but rather our lack of determining what our alternatives really are).
 
As an example of this, imagine that I drew several squares and asked you to divide the squares into four equal parts.  I suspect that you will quickly come up with the four solutions below (or slight variations thereof) and then be stumped to recognize any additional solutions. 

Standard Boxes

What would you say to me if I told you that there were in fact an infinite amount of possible solutions to this problem? 
 
By drawing two straight perpendicular lines and rotating them around a center point (point "A" in the illustration), one can create an infinite amount of solutions to the problem by rotating the lines in smaller and smaller increments.
 

Alternative Boxes

In addition there are even more infinite solutions, one can also first divide the box into two equal parts and draw a straight line from point "B" to point "C".  By moving point "B" down while moving point "C" up in equal amounts (on both sides), one can create even more solutions to the problem.

Now it is quite possible that one of the first four solutions is actually the best solutions to the problem but isn’t nice to know that the possibilities are actually limitless before you make your final choice?  

I don’t think a day goes by where a new customer doesn’t say to me, "gee...I didn’t know that OptiFuse even existed as an alternative to "_____________" (fill in the blank with Cooper Bussmann, LittelFuse, Raychem, etc.)...I’m glad I found you".
 
Even old customers are constantly telling me that they had no idea that we carried a certain type of fuse, circuit breaker, accessory item or other part.
 
I suppose that I shoulder most of the blame for this.  It’s my job to introduce OptiFuse or show customers possible alternatives so they can select the best solution for their particular problem.
 
Part of the fun and adventure in life is considering the all of the alternative unlimited choices that we all have before us. 
 
Perhaps that’s why Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors of ice cream...
 
...and why California has 391 universities.   
 
Thank you so much for supporting OptiFuse where we try to give you choices so you can make a good, better or best choice for your needs.



Jim Kalb
President
OptiFuse
jimk@optifuse.com

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