Jim Yardley wrote a brilliant article on August 18, 2012, for “another” conservative web site. His article was entitled “You Can Pick Only Two.” His article was so good that I had to throw my 2¢ worth in. Jim did a great job explaining just how the “Price – Quality – Delivery” paradigm works in the real world.
In his article, Jim said”
“Look how Britain currently (and America in the future under ObamaCare) has suffered with health care that simply reflects the truth of that old adage:
You want low-cost and high-quality health care? Fine, you’ll have to wait for several months to see a doctor, but that’s OK — you got two out of three.
Don’t want to wait? OK, we can do that, too. It will be fast and cheap, but we can’t guarantee top quality. Now are you happy?
Oh, you want top quality and you want it immediately? Fine, we can do that, too, but you can forget cheap.
And these trade-offs apply not just to health care, but to everything else that government (or private industry, for that matter) provides.
His healthcare example was outstanding. I wish I had thought of publishing the idea, but, alas, all I can do is add to it by providing a visual representation.
Why, you ask, do I want to do that? Because I used exactly the same example to support and teach critical thinking. In the military and civilian worlds I found the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” to be quite true, especially as rank (military or civilian) rose. That is not a “knock” on rank – it’s a reflection of their changes of view.
The “real world” ALWAYS has three dimensions. Working with only two dimensions means that you are working with a “plane.” When Jim says that you can only pick two, he is referring to one of three planes that you can choose. The third dimension and its default quantity is FORCED upon you by reality. You MUST work in three dimensions – working with only two dimensions is unrealistic (although it may work in the short run).
The first figure, a graph, illustrates reality, what Jim Yardley was expressing. EVERYTHING is/can be expressed in three dimensions (graph axes). He chose dimensions (Price – Quality – Delivery) that are very realistic, particularly for the health care example he selected. Note that in Jim’s first example above, he cites “low-cost.” The problem here is that a low-cost to the consumer program will carry a very high program price, such as with Medicare. So a low-cost program will have a high price.
The next figure illustrates working only with the “Quality – Price” plane, illustrated here in light blue. There is absolutely nothing incorrect with choosing these two dimensions. The only “problem” occurs when reality, requiring that you work with three dimensions, FORCES you to take the default “Delivery” quantity, which is zero, or not a very rapid delivery. This is what Jim is illustrating in his first example above.
Let’s say that you have a program that has a price/quality target illustrated by the “*”. But notice that the quantity of “Delivery” is zero. Making the quantity of the third dimension (Delivery) have a non-zero quantity is going to involve, as Jim says, a tradeoff. If, for example, you have only X dollars to spend on the entrire program, then the “*” MUST move toward the “Price” axis, or the “Quality” axis, or both, if the “Delivery” quantity is to become non-zero, to move away from the graph origin. Or, if the “Price” and/or “Quality” quantities are fixed, then it’s going to take more money (or effort – same thing) to move the “Delivery” quantity away from the graph origin, the zero quantity.
Both situations are classic examples of tradeoffs.
The same is true regardless of which two dimensions you choose, be they “Price – Delivery” or “Quality – Delivery.” Moving the third dimension away from a zero quantity, the graph origin, is going to require a tradeoff.
And, no, the “Quality – Delivery” plane, illustrated below, with its forced “Price” quantity of zero is not a contradiction. Think about it. In this instance, the word “price” means the VALUE of the program. A program that has no value is not going to accomplish its mission, regardless of its quality or delivery. This is a visual example of Jim’s second health care example above.
That is Jim’s point – if you are going to work in only two dimensions (“You Can Pick Only Two”), then the default quantity of zero for the third dimension will be FORCED upon you. Or a tradeoff is going to become involved. There is simply no way to avoid it.
There may, indeed, be a fourth or fifth or … dimension in which all three of the dimensions of our reality are satisfied. But, as Jim says, “… find some of the fairy dust Obama thinks he has in a closet somewhere in the White House.” That is the ONLY way we can escape our three dimensional world!
But that’s just my opinion.
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