A slightly unusual question, but nevertheless one we should really be asking.
In 2001, Takeru Kobayashi doubled the world record for the number of hot dogs eaten in 12 minutes, from 25 and 1/8 to a remarkable 50 hot dogs.
Although a somewhat trivial feat, what Stephen Dubner (co-author of Freakonomics) explains, is the approach Takeru took in order to achieve a 200% increase in output.
Rather than prescribing a definitive solution to achieve the same results, the following steps act as a methodology for problem-solving to maximise efficiency:
1. (Re)define the problem in order to ask the right questions
Einstein defines insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Why, if we know this, do we find ourselves attacking problems from the same angle, enduring routine procedures, all to achieve the same results?
The answer is we haven't defined the problem in a manner that enables us to ask the right questions and get to the bottom of the problem.
Breaking down the problem into each individual element allows us to reframe it in a way whereby we can work on it from top-to-bottom, rather than just the parts that annoy us.
Once broken down, as Takeru does, we can determine the influencing factors and variables in order to experiment.
Who knew sleep had anything to do with eating hotdogs?
Until you experiment, you will be unable to answer such questions.
Not all experiments will work.
However, by analysing the outcomes, we can determine which have a positive contribution toward the desired objective.
By collecting and aggregating the data, we can begin to build a complete picture and observe which variables have the greatest overall impact.
A great example of this is A/B testing whereby you test the performance of two variants against each other.
4. Implement Solution
Once the data is complete, it is possible then to select the optimal solution and work toward it's implementation.
Final word - The key here is not to accept this as job done. In order to achieve true efficiency, one must continue to ask the right questions and improve.
As circumstances change there can be an infinite number of ways to approach and define the problem. Therefore, it is imperative to continue questioning, experimenting, and analysing.
Only then, can we truly "think like a freak".
Eating Hot Dogs Like a Freak, with Stephen Dubner