analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Jan-Apr 2001 Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

13 March 2001 Tuesday




The philosophy of optimisation has helped and broke me. When I learned to view the world in terms of objective functions and constraints at school, I saw a different world.

Last week I noticed my cat was almost out of catfood. I had planned for the 10 kg bag to last until Spring. But he had over indulged. So I waited until the last minute to order cat food for delivery. I had timed it well. Or so I thought.

Today I called and asked what happened. They said they would deliver within 2 to 4 days. Today was the 8th day. "Sorry," said the supervisor who answered my call after 20 rings, "we couldn't help it. Your order is at the warehouse waiting to be picked up."

"Don't I get any compensation? Now my cat will go hungry," I demanded.

Perhaps it was my fault for waiting until the last minute. Paradoxically this just-in-time, no slack lifestyle is no longer optimal. The penalties of being late or being insufficient are high. I had to call my local vet for cat food. Luckily my preferred brand was in stock and all I had to do was to cycle over. Although it was slightly more expensive, at least my cat won't go hungry.

Interestingly businesses are practising just-in-time and no slack management. They've trimmed all the fat and made everyone more productive. But the moment one person gets sick, the rest is affected.

Related Diary Entries
26 July Racing Against Time
29 Aug Ten Kilos of Cat Food
3 Sept Penny Wise Pound Foolish
5 Jan Optimising Against Constraints
27 Feb Procrastination