Factorials, Meetings and a Visual

Factorials have always fascinated me, partly because of their use in statistics and probability. Factorials have an explosive growth pattern. They also appear in our every day lives (if you have a day job in an office at least). Where you may ask? In meetings! I’ll call this the meeting uselessness factor, and have charted it below. Higher means more useless. n┬áis the number of people in the meeting and n! is the resulting uselessness of the meeting.

A meeting of 0 or 1 humans is always 100% efficient, no waste and everyone agrees on the decision.

A meeting of 2 humans is 50% efficient and there’s a 50% change that everyone agrees on the decision.

A meeting of 3 humans is only 16.7% efficient and there’s a high chance of disagreement or napping.

With a meeting of 4 or more humans, we see a huge drop off on efficiency and consensus as everyone gets distracted, wants things their own way or argues for no apparent reason.

The math doesn’t lie.

n n!
0 1
1 1
2 2
3 6
4 24
5 120
6 720
7 5040
8 40320
9 362880
10 3628800
11 39916800
12 479001600
13 6227020800
14 87178291200
15 1307674368000
16 20922789888000
17 355687428096000
18 6402373705728000
19 121645100408832000
20 2432902008176640000

10796.strip

Courtesy of Dilbert

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