After combining those two concepts, it's analogous to combining the twin principles of Occam's Razor and cui bono; the simplest way to figure out why something is happening is to figure out who benefits from that action.
It took me a while to figure this out. I used to think that things happened because of natural forces or dialectical materialism or social darwinism in action, but now the only razor that can logically explain why things - big and small - occur is:
In my job, who really benefits from what I do? At the client, who really benefits from getting this project done? At the investor, who benefits from getting this deal through? On your team, who benefits from shifting your growth target to this position or that position, from this space to that space?
On a grand scale: who benefits from Syrian bloodletting? Who benefits from EU economic paralysis? Who benefits from a weak Obama presidency? Who benefits from a successful Chinese rebalancing; who benefits from a desperate Chinese government?
An aside - romance and friendship are two things where you try to keep such questions as far away from your actions as possible.
But, sadly enough, I can feel that question creeping into all aspects of my life. Some days I'll wander through all my personal interactions like I'm the protag in a G-rated version of a Raymond Chandler book; the depressing thing is that it makes the day easier in that now I can slam dunk all my interpersonal conversations and decisions.
And then I realize why I'm seeking to combine these two principles when I deal with people - because people are complex, man, and if I can simplify them into simple needs that need to be fulfilled, then they suddenly become easy to deal with; they become nothing more than arrows that point in one direction, and suddenly the words and interactions I must deliver them flow as easy as ducks in a row.
I wish it didn't have to be this way. I wish we could just be simple - simply complex, in that delightful way, in that capricious way, when we do things for reasons other than naked self-interest - but alas, it seems, that as I get older, not only do I default to cui bono more and more as a default mode of interpersonal analysis... but that style is right an increasing amount of the time.
Or maybe I'm just drunk.
Another aside - has anyone ever read Durkheim here? Hands up if you have; my next post is going to be about suicide.
P.P.S - Gone is the fierce idealism that made me once drive to change the world around me; I now find that the world has changed me much more than I have changed it - and most disturbingly - I welcome my new, altered, soma-filled mindset.