The Power of Two

Or this item might have been titled, “To be or not to be, …”. This topic came to mind in thinking about a thread How to convince a client that an exit popup is not good. Decisions are usually easier if you only have two things to choose from or only two things to compare.

This idea has been around for at least 750 years. It’s known as Occam’s Razor. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s a definition that Google has.
Definition of Occam’s Razor on the Web:
Originally propounded by the English philospher, William of Occam (1300-1349), as: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Which is translated: Entities should not be multiplied more than necessary. In other words, the simplest explanation is the one that is most likely to be correct, or KISS (keep it simple, stupid!) Occam’s Razor is often mentioned in Robert Heinlein’s works.
www.technomom.com/harassed/definitions.html
In other words, try very hard to cut it down to only two choices.

This idea can be further extended into a little two way table that looks like this:

Two-way Table

In other words, you show the upsides and the downsides of each of the two choices. It’s surprising this simple approach isn’t used more. It’s a very powerful aid to taking a decision.

It has been suggested in a number of different contexts. One I like is called the Johari Window. If you would like to know more check out Windows – 3 for outstanding performance.