Fat Fingers and Process Bottlenecks

All processes have a bottleneck, a rate limiting step, something that stops them from going further faster.   It is really important to know what the bottle neck is, because unless you open the bottleneck you will never get any better.

Let’s take the mobile computer as an example.  I am sitting on a train writing this on a net book.  A mini laptop.

Over the past 20 years there has been a revolution in personal computers, they have got smaller and smaller.  This is due to the impact of Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a micro chip doubles every 2 years.  The law has held true since it was devised in the 1970’s.

All very interesting, but what has that got to do with bottle necks?

Personal computers won’t continue to get smaller. No matter how long Moore’s law holds true.  They may well become more powerful, but they won’t get smaller.

Why?  Because the number of transistors you can put on a chip is no longer the limiting factor. Technologically I could be writing this on my iphone, it would do the job very easily, but I am typing it on a net book because my fingers are too fat.  Although the phone could do the job, I use my laptop because it is ergonomically easier.

If size is the goal, The only way now that laptops will get smaller is if my fingers get smaller, they are the constraint, the bottleneck.  You can increase battery life, improve computing power, develop light weight materials, do any or all of the above, but computers won’t get any smaller unless you give me daintier fingers.

Which begs the question, are your process improvement efforts opening up your bottleneck?  Because if they aren’t, you really are wasting your time.
Osborne Executive with iPhone

 Image by somegeekintin

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  1. We are so bad at looking for the bottleneck. Well worth reading the Goal if you haven’t already


  2. Love the picture, I think my Dad used to have one of those. Not really a lap top, unless you have a very big lap

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