Tag Archives: Decision tree

Buying Shirts

If you’ve ever walked through the part of a big department store where they sell men’s shirts (and ties – remember them?), you might have noticed that there’s almost an infinite number of choices.

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 28:  A shopper looks thr...

(Getty Images via @daylife)

At least it seems so to me. Collar styles, colors, patterns, and cuffs are all mixed up in a lot of variations. I suppose it’s the same in the dress department – an overwhelming number of possibilities.  I bring this up because a project in which I’m involved has stumbled into a figurative department store.  The technology is filled with possibilities.  So many, in fact, that we’re at a point where we need to exclude some intriguing avenues just so we can get to the checkout with something in our carts.

Working with highly energized, very creative people has a downside.  They tend to see so many possibilities – all the shirts and dresses – that they’re often running off in a hundred directions while not really advancing.  To a certain extent, that sort of war gaming is critical.  It’s a less formal type of decision tree analysis that many of us like to do.  However, there comes a time when the branches of that tree with less potential or which don’t meet near term goals (and for new ventures that usually includes kicking off revenue pretty quickly) need to be trimmed off.

In this case, what we’re trying to do is to lay out all the possibilities, to look at the possible outcomes of making each choice, to assign values and probabilities to each branch of the tree and to make a decision based on our best guesses and whatever information we already have.  In other words, buy a shirt.  We’ve spent enough time trying things on and holding them up to the mirror.  We need to get out of the store and get to work.  And so do you!


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A roll of punched tape

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When I was in high school, I learned BASIC programming.  We connected to a mainframe computer someplace by using a phone coupler and dialing in.  There was no monitor; every interaction with the computer was typed on a long sheet of paper.  Programs were written and submitted via punch-tape.  I know – ancient history.  But some of what I learned is applicable today and I want to discuss on bit of logic coders use all the time which has business implications (or might even be a best-practice): the “if-then” statement. Continue reading

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