Sort by size vs sort by color

Someone I know had a container that had sorted 1000s of different beads and they dropped it on the ground. It was heartbreaking because they became all mixed up, but all of the beads were exactly the same size, only varying in color. Had they been varying only in size, a system of making some wires at different spacing could have easily been made to quickly sort the 1000s of beads back into their original places, but instead, color requires the human eye and a huge amount of effort and time. There is no easy, quick to rig up solution for sorting by color.

The world has more ways to sort things that we can possibly count. In fact, no matter the job you have or the work you do in some way you are sorting information, whether there is a physical good attached or not. If you own a restaurant you may be sorting who you should hire, or what should go on the menu, or which tables need to the gum scraped off the bottom.

The difficult part is that we (and by we, I mean everyone) don’t know how the most important things should be sorted. There is no perfect solution.

If you’re in sales you’re sorting requirements, objections, agreements, and resources in order to package them all together into a presentation and create deal. If you’re in the recycling business you’re sorting things that are plastic vs. glass, but what happens when a cat ends up there? How do we deal with that not fitting our classifications?

If you want to find a way to add value to someone, be in the business of sorting in a way that there isn’t already an elegant system for. The harder it is to design a system to do, the closer to “human” that task is, and the more likely it is to be valued. Many of these items, like the sales example, are “intangible” and there is no efficient way to train someone to do this work. That’s why there is value to it.