A few weeks ago, a colleague shared this Wikipedia page on the XY problem. This part in particular struck me as hilarious:

The concept of the problem itself, however, was known long before it received this name. In operations research scholar Gene Woolsey’s[5] 1980 text Applied Management Science: A Quick and Dirty Approach, he described an example of the XY problem thusly: When management received complaints about having to wait too long for elevators, they researched elevator protocols in order to reduce wait times, but Woolsey realized that the actual problem was that “people were complaining” — installing large mirrors in the lobby gave people something to do and complaints went down drastically.[6]

Mirrors. How vain! How simple! How bird-like! I loved this solution and the logic behind it. And that it worked. Humans, haha, fools.

Fast-forward to this week. I’m in my co-working building, waiting for the elevator and I catch myself thinking “wow, this elevator is slow.” Then I think “Kind of wish there were, like, a mirror – god DAMN IT Woolsey!!” Never felt so predictable in my life.

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