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Proverbs are intended to pass on popular wisdom and are frequently expressed as warnings - ' don't count your chickens ', ' don't look a gift horse in the mouth ' and so on.

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Of all the 'don't do that' To that list of don'ts we can add the odd-sounding 'don't throw the baby out with the bathwater'. Sadly, any discussion of the origin of this proverb has to refer to the nonsensical but apparently immortal email that circulates the Internet ' Life in the s ' or s, as some variants have it. One of the claims in one version of that mail is that "in medieval times" people shared scarce bathwater and by the time that the baby was bathed the water was so murky that the baby was in danger of being thrown out unseen.

Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater on performance reviews

Complete twaddle, of course. What is unusual about this phrase is that, quite by chance, the mischievous author of 'Life in the s' hit on a correct date - the proverb did originate in the s. Murner wrote in German of course, but we hardly need a translator as he was good enough to include a woodcut illustrating the proverb. To read the first post, go here.

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  4. The greatest achievement is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall. As the 21st century approached, luxury automakers faced a technical design challenge: an increasing array of new in-car devices—phone, GPS navigation, digital radio, satellite radio, CD changers, Internet access, television, emergency notification, side and rearview cameras, and driving system settings—was turning dashboards into an unfathomable mess. Automakers were forced to rethink how drivers interface with cars.

    As a concept, the design made sense.

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    BMW could integrate several different subsystems into one system, and unforeseen future functions could be added via software, all controlled through the one central dial and screen. Imagine trying to shop on Amazon.

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    That was the iDrive experience when, say, trying to change the radio station. Worst of all, the company was at risk of staining its storied reputation, as threatened in this Automobile magazine review:. The BMW Li should be the numero uno in this test, but its excellent performance at the test track and its even more impressive performance on challenging country roads are badly offset by iDrive.

    The iDrive system represents a layer of complexity that actually detracts from what ought to be a breathtaking driving experience.

    English in a Minute: Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

    What would you do next? BMW could have scrapped iDrive, but instead they kept it and gradually revised the design.

    World Wide Words: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

    Over the next several years, they added back more physical buttons—some as shortcuts to basic functions like radio, CD, and navigation, and others that are programmable. Today, reviewers generally consider iDrive on par with the competition. Regardless of what BMW will tell you, that was one seriously painful product evolution.

    But the company succeeded in having the discipline over several years to discard the failed aspects of iDrive while keeping what worked. I have worked with companies large and small and started two businesses of my own, experiencing my share of failure along the way. I had some success but not without nights lying awake wondering if I was pulling the right levers.