Make Small Improvements

One approach to finding the best solution to a problem is to start with a good solution and to then improve upon it. As World Chess Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker said, "When you find a good move, look for a better one." The great success of the Volkswagen Beetle was based on this concept. Every year small changes were made—only those that improved the vehicle. For decades, "the people's car" was the most popular in the world.

The Boeing 700 series aircraft follow a similar theme. The Boeing 707 established the archetype for the later models. This nearly optimal design spawned larger, more efficient versions: the 727, 737, 757, and the 747 jumbo jet. The reason these aircraft look so similar is that they are so close to the perfect solution of what a subsonic jet airliner should be.

Why are they called the 700 series? Because Americans believe in lucky numbers and "7" is considered lucky. Most hotels don't number the thirteenth floor as "13"; they label it "14." Otherwise, people just won't stay in those rooms. The Boeing 707 would never have gotten off the ground if it was called the "Boeing 1300" or "the Boeing 1313." Probably the "Boeing 666" would not have been very popular either.

The Boeing people were smart engineers in their basic design and evolutionary improvements, and they were also smart in naming the beast with a nice numerical scheme that appeals to the numer-ologists in us. There is, of course, a Boeing 777 now, and that sounds like another improvement—it has an extra 7!


Jedi Master Yoda Star Wars

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