The Value Of Accuracy

Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by Brett Jordan

It was an early morning class. We walked in to find the dreaded dragon of the beginning circuits class – the class known as a weeder class to cull out the below-average students. But instead of an ogre, the man at the front of the class resembled nothing so much as Papa Smurf. Except taller. And without the hat.

And he looked at us and said, “75% of you will flunk this class.”

He gave us another look, having captured our attention. “There will be four exams with four questions each. You will be accurate out to 4 decimal places, of the answer will be wrong. There will be no partial credit.

At that point people started heading for the door, seeking the registrar to drop the class.

It wasn’t that the material was particularly difficult. It wasn’t that his stringent requirements of accuracy were impossible to master.

It was that people couldn’t master the concentration to be precise. They couldn’t discern what was important to the problem and what was fluff.

It was in that class that I learned the value of simplicity. How to be accurate. How to take my time with an important job so I didn’t make costly mistakes that would require a do-over. How to check my work as I did it to prevent mistakes from carrying forward.

I realized the other day, as I was describing this man to a colleague, just how great of an impact he had on me.

Thank you Professor Tiedemann.

Photo by Brett Jordan