The Logic Box

by Krishna on July 4, 2007

The logic box is a technique that I read in some management book or article sometime back. I tried Googling for the original source, but failed — there is a blog that has the same name. Anyway, the idea is rather simple and probably doesn’t even need a special name. Here is what a logic box is:

Suppose you have a problem and you want to find a solution. You cannot just pick the first thing that pops into your head because every action has consequences. There are also many constraints to what you can do.

So you start building a closed box where the sides of the box represent your constraints. When you enumerate every constraint, you have a closed box containing a set of solutions from which you can choose. You cannot choose anything outside the box without violating one or more constraints.

Let me take a simple example. You want to buy a car. One important constraint is how much money you can spend. Other constraints are safety, size, comfort, performance, etc. If you have a family of five, you obviously cannot buy a two-seater. If you go camping in the mountains, you want a vehicle that performs well off the road.

So mentally you start putting together the logic box. There are some things you need, but there is a limit to what you can do. As you start building the box, you suddenly realize that the sides of the box are not fitting together. For example, the high-performance car that you want is unaffordable. What do you do then?

This is a sign that you need to change some constraint. Either you need to decide for a lower-performing car or you need to find more money somehow. When you adjust the constraints accordingly, the logic box comes together and you make a logical decision.

Now let us say that you don’t change any constraint and you have an open box. You go ahead and buy the car which you cannot afford. This is an irrational thing to do. What happens then is that reality starts tinkering with your constraints, forcing them on you, whether you like it or not. To make the payments, you will have to do with less stuff you were buying or enjoying, start making more money or default on your payments.

So, ultimately the logic box always wins.

You decide whether you want to understand how it works and adapt your behavior accordingly. Or you can ignore it and then be forced to adapt.

Of course, no one really thinks about building a “logic box” and “making the sides fit”. The concept of a logic box is to suggest that if we hope to make a logical and careful decision, we must consider all our desires and all our constraints and have them be compatible with our decision.

If our decisions maximize what we desire while considering all the practical constraints we know about, our decision will more likely to succeed in the long run. Wishful thinking that ignores constraints can only lead to problems when those constraints show up.


മൂര്‍ത്തി July 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Nice article. Recently only I saw your blog. Read most of the articles on blogging.

Krishna Kumar July 4, 2007 at 2:25 pm


Thanks for your comments

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