Occam’s razor

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Occam’s razor, also known as Ockham’s razor, and sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae (the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness), 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.

In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the more correct one.

Where is it used?

It could find applications at every stage in the  life cycle of a project. It could help in keeping decision making simple and uncomplicated. It can help in simplifying project management processes, tools, conflict resolution and everything in general. The possibilities are only unlimited.

Why is it important?

Many times we as project managers tend to have a one size fits all approach to many of the complex problems we need to solve on a daily basis. Things are never too simple but given the choice, choosing the simpler of the two is the most logical choice. The factors for deciding the simplicity will vary depending on the situation or task at hand. But as the definition of Occam’s razor says, given everything else is same, simpler is definitely better.

Word of caution

Occam’s razor is many times used to shift the burden of proof in discussions. Not in all situations, the simplest answer is the most correct answer. We must always remember that the simplest answer is the best “given everything else is equal”.

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Hrishikesh Karekar

Hrishikesh is an enterprise agile coach with interests in varied disciplines. Frequently writing on Agile and Lean related topics, he also occasionally ventures into other stuff like Artificial Intelligence as well..