How to Think Outside The Blue Box
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  • larryj8

    Interesting article. It reminds me of the old story about a retired engineer who’d spent his career at the same powerplant. A year after he retired, there was a major problem that no one could solve, so they hired him as a consultant. He went to the plant, studied the situation for 10 minutes and walked to the control panel. Once there, he flipped a single switch and the problem was solved. A day later, he sent his bill: $1,000. The plant management asked how he could justify $1,000 for 10 minutes of work. He replied, “$10 of the bill was for the 10 minutes. $990 was for knowing which switch to flip.”
    Where applicable, negotiated fees for services make a lot of sense. If I hire a contractor to do a job, after he analyzes what I want done, he comes up with his price. Once we agree on the price, I don’t care if it takes him one hour or one week so long as he does what we agreed and meets my quality expectations. I hired him for a particular service and a fixed price gives him an incentive to work efficiently. Of course, this won’t work for things where the requirements aren’t known or where the results are less tangible but nothing works for every possible situation.

  • SouthwesternSongDog

    This is not a new revelation as far as professionals go but coming up with a substitute that is fair to everybody is not easy. Piece work seems to be OK in medicine, but it doesn’t work in law. Lump sum bids have been tried in law but they amount to a shot in the dark until the work is well under way, especially if you have an adversary. And, expenses seem to be correlated with time rather than productivity.

    The rent, the secretary’s salary, malpractice insurance, are all billed based upon units of time. It’s much easier to match up units of revenue and units of expense when they are both time based.

    Mark me down as a skeptic.

  • kriskanya

    So where does the TARDIS factor into all of this?

  • MichaelKennedy

    After I retired from surgery, I spent a year getting another degree in what may be called health care evaluation. Dartmouth was the pioneer in such studies. After getting that degree, which mostly involved learning methods, I tried to develop another career in measuring medical quality. I figured out some useful criteria but found no one interested. The organizations were all fearful that quality would cost more. I tried to convince them otherwise but finally gave up.

  • aloysiusmiller

    Good luck with this. Most managers are such mediocrities that they are unable to discern quality.

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