It was a long and stormy night….
Actually, it was a bright, sun-filled Saturday morning, but it began to feel like a stormy day. After I had showered, with no issues, my husband took his turn while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes downstairs.
I heard him shout. From downstairs. From the kitchen, away from the stairway.
“The pipes are going to burst!”, cried out my damp (and clothed, again) husband. Running back up the stairs to the bathroom, I stood in shock as he turned on the water. The vibration rattled the shower.
Being the Internet and social media type that I am, I immediately went to my Web browser and searched on “plumbing+vibrating+pipes”. I thought about tweeting in a panic to my Twitter peeps, but the Web search kept me busy enough.
My husband reviewed the research and resolved that it was air in the pipes. He shut off the main and cleared all water out of our pipes. That didn’t work. Then, we suspected it was from our local water company’s system. Nope. No evidence there.
We even called the president of our homeowner’s association, a very handy man. He couldn’t figure it out, either, and in despair we began to anticipate a potentially high plumbing bill which would have been a financial storm at the time.
In a short moment of desperate calm, my “fix it” husband stared at the shower and at the hanger that hung from the shower head, holding various wash cloths and soaps.
His battery-operated, fancy-schmancy razor.
As far-fetched as this may sound, the way the razor rested in the hanger apparatus caused it to power on and buzz against the shower wall when my husband turned on the water. And boy, did it make a racket!!
The razor must have shifted its position in the hanger after I showered and hung up a wash cloth. To this day, we still can’t figure out how the water running up through the pipes turned on the razor.
This is a true story, and we both learned a huge lesson that sunny and potentially stormy Saturday.
We made assumptions about the “exploding shower pipes” but they were the wrong ones. Our assumptions were too complex. We failed to stop, look around, take a step back (and a breath) and consider the simplest, most obvious causes.
We failed to apply Occam’s Razor to our little razor situation.
After we laughed and calmed down, we sat in the kitchen and reflected on how this happens in businesses. We discussed different projects at our respective employers, and the “craziness” that could occur among team members and cross-functional colleagues when faced with a problem (an “opportunity”).
How do you and your colleagues handle business “opportunities”, especially those that seem to present a crisis? Do you review them calmly and apply Occam’s Razor?
Occam’s razor is a principle that generally recommends that, from among competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one, and that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false.
Most of us do, and that’s good for business. I wanted to share our true story as a fun reminder to all of us. When there’s a situation to solve, remember to KISS, first, until proven otherwise!
(KISS = Keep It Simple, Silly!)