Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.
George Box

This is a fantastic thing to keep in mind. I have a very simple model for happiness at work that I’ve found to be very useful. But is it True? Absolutely not.

The corollary to the statement above is probably, that the less wrong a model is, the more useful!

(Via Jake).

6 thoughts on “Quote”

  1. Hi Alexander

    I was reading Peter Scholtes’ “The Leader’s Handbook” yesterday and thought that it might be something for you – and today you post one of the quotes that is used prominently in that book, too.

    If you have not read it give it a go – it is a very practical handbook for change based on systems thinking. I use it in my work to help humanize software development organisations – most the financial sector.

    You will be pleased to read his chapter about bonus payments (short summary: don’t do it). Being a close student of Dr. Deming his position is that the method, processes and the organisational system itself is responsible for most of the problems and these are not fixed by simply giving out bonuses. In fact, he cites Deming’s famous dictum that a goal without a method is nonsense. It is all about making the system work better, rather than blaming the people for the results of a poor system they are not allowed to change.

    Anyway, it has a lot of good stuff and I think you will enjoy it.

    More info about the book at Scholtes’ website:

    All the best,

  2. I wouldn’t say that. We’re more than guessing – we’re making hypotheses, testing thema nd refining them to create more accurate and more useful models.

    It’s just that the model is not “The Truth”. Like the map is not the landscape.

  3. Yes this is good, genuinely skeptical (as opposed to cynical) thinking. It applies very stongly to science too, something I didn’t click into soon enough when I was studying sciences.

  4. I think that the above statement means that no model can be correct, but even the wrong ones sometimes turn out right. Behind every mistake is a great accident waiting to be revealed.

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