March of the Numbers

Dear J-

It appears that I’ll be headed towards making up numbers pretty soon now; the total number of dollars seems to be correct but he way it’s stretched over five machines doesn’t seem to be quite right. What are you going to do, though? There’s what feels like a thousand different ways to go but at some point you have to use a gut feel and just leap, right? Is that right, or should we be more cautious of numbers that seem way too good to be true? What would make the client happy? That’s the question I ask myself most of the time these days; I have to remind myself that I’m a consultant now, and correspondingly distant from being a client, so it’s back to better.

Let me explain; as a contractor working on-site as supplemental personnel early on at San Onofre, our company advised us that we should always go for 10% more: stretch your hours by 10% (for free, naturally), dress 10% better, add that extra 10% whenever you think you need to; it made sense at the time and it feels like I’ve tried to adopt it going forward. Although it may have felt like a giant sigh of relief when I got hired directly by Edison, it was only a matter of changing hats, not ethics or habits and by now it’s too far gone to be mistaken for anything else. Something doesn’t sit right about the distribution and I can do something about it, but does that make sense instead of trying to get the model to fit?

The more I write the longer I think about clients and who you’re working for and what you do in order to make things right. How do you justify these sorts of tweaks; do they make sense or are you only trying to cover your shortcomings and limitations? Does it work as well as you might suppose? At the best of times I feel like a fraud and at my worst you don’t want to hear the things I say to myself; there’s doubt in the math and doubt in statistics and using something developed by others doesn’t make that much sense in believing what I’ve done is right. then it feels like you do a tweak to get the numbers to line up better and then how far gone are you? Exactly.

Mike

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