“Assume a can opener…..”

Technical Communication - Technical Communication in Economics

An economist, a physicist and a chemist are washed up, shipwrecked, on an uninhabited island. There’s plenty of water, but no food…….They wake up the next morning, and……..

“We’re saved!!” A crate has washed ashore, with the name of its contents – “food” – written on the outside.They open the crate; the food is all in cans.

The physicist immediately gets to work, looking for shards of glass in the river which he could perhaps use to concentrate light and ‘burn’ the cans open.The chemist immediately gets to work, seeking a chemical compound that can eat through the cans.

The economist sits quietly under a tree, smiling.Eventually, the others become furious: What are you doing? If we don’t find a way to open the cans, we’re all going to die!!!”.The economist is untroubled: “No, its not a hard problem.”

“The solution is straightforward.”

“Assume a can opener……”

This is what we do when we assume away the challenges of decision-making, of designing the details of a new policy, of organizational functioning, and of implementation………

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