In George Dyson’s classic, Turing’s Cathedral, he examines “the origins of the digital universe.” Dozens of passages caught my eye, including one wherein he discusses a list of George H. Bigelow’s fourteen “Maxims for Ideal Prognosticators.” They are eminently sensible and of potential value (perhaps substantial value) during a decision-making process.
Seven: “Never estimate what can be accurately computed.”
Eight: “Never guess what can be estimated.”
Nine: And if a guess is absolutely necessary, “Never guess blindly.”
Yes, yes, these are all obvious. Think of them as reminders of common sense that is often uncommon. Many decision-makers see a yellow light as green, a “maybe” as “yes,” and “perhaps” as an agreement, if not an iron-clad commitment.
It is amazing to me how many business decisions (including the decision not to make one) are incorrect, insufficient, or irrelevant. Keep Bigelow’s three simple maxims in mind.
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I highly recommend Turing’s Cathedral, published by Pantheon Books (2012). A paperbound edition is also available (Vintage Books 2012).
To learn more about Julian Bigelow, please click here.