Simplification cycle

What’s a sale? So simple a question it shouldn’t require asking. When you do, though, a familiar pattern emerges: things have different meanings for different purposes, to different people, and at different times. That’s fine, but most peoples’ brains aren’t set up to hold multiple meanings in the forefront of …

Short-term + long-term

An 80% solution now is better than perfect solution a year from now, but what if you have to do both? What if you have to pursue a solution now, or you won’t make it to the future — the game will be over before the future gets here; and …

The science of how to get things done

If you want people to be able to do something complex, you need to provide them with the tools. Here’s an example of the basic methodology for solving an unstructured problem. State the problem: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Parse it carefully into pieces: words matter …

Explaining changes in data

Reporting is politics, in that when you stand in front of people to present a report, it’s because you want them to take away a message; and you want that message to result in them taking some action. Just like a political speech, there’s a story you want to tell, …

Talking about probability

What’s the answer to a cash-flow projection? That’s your Zen question for today. Does a cash-flow projection even have an intrinsic answer? Or does it depend on the question that was asked in creating the preparation? Or does it have multiple, different answers, depending on which reader is asking which …

Clarity and triangulation

It’s almost always worth it to spend a lot of time searching for the most powerful way you can find to get a message across. Exactly as politicians do when they want to break through the noise, you have a leave a business audience with something that sticks, something (maybe …

Systems and politics

Electoral district design can affect politicians’ incentive to compromise. This is a systems problem, of course, and can be understand and fixed entirely without reference to political views. Background: Assume that people of similar views tend to live near each other. Then if you can control the boundaries of political …

Trust is a system

People are wired to want to trust those with whom they work. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint: you’ll probably be around longer if you can make rapid, and reasonably correct, assessments of whether the person next to you is going to attack, support, or be indifferent to you. …

Robust systems

We are passionate advocates of robust systems, but we have a particularly broad definition of robust. We don’t mean error-free or secure or fail-safe. You have to start there, and you could spend a lifetime making something work error-free, but that’s not the full definition. Robustness isn’t just about uptime …

Simulations and training – II

Experiences lead to the imprint of patterns on the mind that act as templates for your actions. When you walk into a room and people greet you, how they greet you and how you respond are based on patterns that you’ve both stored; a pilot landing a fighter on the …

Sumulations and training – I

If wisdom = the ability to reason + a set of recognized patterns, then you can accelerate both elements, and get the person (yourself, your kid, your colleague) to a place of wisdom faster than waiting for them to live a full life and reflect extensively on it. Which is …

Building coalitions

Harvard Business School once invited a group of its Silicon Valley alumni together to hear the results of its year-long, n=9,000+ executive survey on US competitiveness. By halfway through the meeting, we concluded that they were not trying to raise money, they were actually trying to raise a coalition. Now, …

Meritocracy in business

Meritocracy is a system in which those who deserve it most rule. However, merit is determined / measured / observed by objective factors: achievements, like performance rankings, competition victories, or cash generation. These in turn are all subject to effects like: Compounding; Accretion; Network effect; and Luck. If you take …