Tom The Architect

Technology and other Interesting Stuff

Category: Food for Thought

Tyler Cowen Interviews Daniel Kahneman

Economist Tyler Cowen interviews Daniel Kahneman (well worth a listen) renowned psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences. I first learned about Daniel Kahneman when I read his 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow (NY Times book review), detailing his research and experiments demonstrating the impact of intuitive thinking and cognitive bias on our behavior.

In his conversation with Tyler he demonstrated the deep consideration he has given to a wide range of topics and his comfort with not knowing all of the answers.  Here are some great quotes from the interview:

Referring to a paper on happiness he authored with Alan Krueger:

Altogether, I don’t think that people maximize happiness in that sense. And that’s one of the reasons that I actually left the field of happiness, in that I was very interested in maximizing experience, but this doesn’t seem to be what people want to do. They actually want to maximize their satisfaction with themselves and with their lives. And that leads in completely different directions than the maximization of happiness.

On happiness feeling good:

Yeah, happiness feels good in the moment. But it’s in the moment. What you’re left with are your memories. And that’s a very striking thing — that memories stay with you, and the reality of life is gone in an instant. So memory has a disproportionate weight because it’s with us. It stays with us. It’s the only thing we get to keep.

On investing in memories:

We certainly invest heavily, heavily in memories. Vacations for many people are investment in the formation and maintenance of memories. There is a lot of investment. Whether it’s too much or too little, it probably depends a lot on people’s amount of consumption of memory that people engage in.

I, for one, am certainly biased. But I do not consume my memories a lot. And I almost never go back to photographs, not deliberately. If I stumble on something, it will move me. But the idea of going back to relive a vacation — that’s not what I do, so I have little empathy for this.

and my favorite on improving the quality of judgement:

My advice is divide and conquer. That is, there is one thing that we know that improves the quality of judgment, I think. And this is to delay intuition…..

So I think delaying intuition is a very good idea. Delaying intuition until the facts are in, at hand, and looking at dimensions of the problem separately and independently is a better use of information….

I don’t think CEOs encounter many problems where they have intuitive expertise. They haven’t had the opportunity to acquire it, so they better slow down.

Break the decision up. It’s not so much a matter of time because you don’t want people to get paralyzed by analysis. But it’s a matter of planning how you’re going to make the decision, and making it in stages, and not acting without an intuitive certainty that you are doing the right thing. But just delay it until all the information is available.

 

 

Never Give up the Tools

My Father, was a carpenter by trade, He once told me “Tom, never give up the tools. Anyone can make lists and give orders, but only a small number of people can make something out of nothing. Someone will always be willing to pay you to make something out of nothing or pay you for something you have made.” Being a 20 year old, his point was lost on me, I didn’t know any better.

Now 20 years on and seeing and mentoring others, I understand the points my Father was trying to make. So this is what I think he was trying to say:

  • You lose more than you think when giving up a skill so choose wisely.
  • Money and power won’t satisfy your need to create and see things completed.
  • People value what you can do more that what you say.
  • There is no substitute for hard skilled work.
  • Always have something to fall back on. (Or as Reid Hoffman in the The Start-Up of You called it a plan z,a backstop)

What do you think about giving up the tools?

The Evolution of Advertising in 5 Minutes

Kevin Rose interviews Chris Sacca of lower case capital and Chris gives a great interview. I recommend you watch the whole thing. But, to hear the best explanation of how advertising has evolved and why services like Twitter, Foursquare and Square are so valuable. The explanation starts at 34 Min.

If you like this interview you might also like Chris Sacca on This Week in Start-ups

Enjoy!

 

How do you think about the future you?

“The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals—not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them—we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.” – Dan Gilbert (via swissmiss)

“We don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. Even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories” – Daniel Kahneman (via zefrank)

“You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.”   “Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times. If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab YOU, then you’ve got a big problem. – Tom Peters (via Fast Company) (emphasis added)

“A great man is one sentence.” – Clare Boothe Luce (via Daniel Pink)

“the world is a great liar”

Peggy Noonan in the article “A Life’s Lesson” writes

In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn’t. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn’t, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That’s what it really admires. That’s what we talk about in eulogies, because that’s what’s important. We don’t say, “The thing about Joe was he was rich.” We say, if we can, “The thing about Joe was he took care of people.”

Fame and celebrity are conferred and wealth is nothing more than an arbitrary scoring mechanism. In the end, we are not remembered and loved for what we have, we are remembered and loved for our behavior, for what we have Done.

People and Permission to Change are the foundation of great things

I have just started reading “the myhts of innovation” by Scott Berkum and Ron Bieber has just posted a great post titled “Agile, Lean, or Common Sense and Permission To Change?”. I have spent a fair amount of time talking with Ron and others about change.

I find Ron’s point interesting:

What Semler’s story shows me is that if people are given the freedom to work the way that is most effective, they will. More than that, if you invest in them with trust, they will want to do these things as their commitment to the company will obviously go up based on how they feel they are treated.

Semler essentially created a self optimizing system, the people are the company. The employees of Semler’s company were changing and they were also the direct recipients of the outcome of each change. The organization and the people were one in the same, so positive and negative outcomes on the organization were positive and negative outcmes for the people.
Then Ron asks:

Is methodology and process really the answer, or is it deeper than that? Is it the way we treat employees that cause inefficiencies?

The reality is that most corporations, their people and some of their processes are not one in the same. This lack of alignment is due in my mind to the many complex factors that are symptoms of the “Corporation” even more challenging the “Public Corporation”. Hence, Methodologies are needed to be the proxies, the translators, the enzymes that allow groups of people and even processes to create environments were effective and efficient change can occur. Getting people that are willing to change, then giving them permission to change, and giving them ownership of the outcome of their changes will create an environment where the system optimizes for the benefit of the group.

The reality we face is that most leaders of corporations are not skilled at finding the right people, and are not comfortable giving people the permission to change beyond the permissions traditionally “allowed” within corporations. This is why there exists an “Innovators Dilema”, why GM still makes ugly and crappy cars, why NASA still uses the space shuttle, why leaders in companies have stupid metrics for innovation and why we need methodologies. They create safe areas within organizations where people can change and own the outcome. Some organizations cannot even create enough change to adopt these methodologies.

Great things do not come from doing nothing or that same old thing.

Look out here comes the Nokia based Google Phone

Google releases Google Maps for Symbian Devices. Just more Fuel for my earlier post about the ideal combination of Nokia and Google. It is probably my wishful thinking but it has a great deal of potential.

What if Google used Nokia instead of HTC for the Google gPhone

I was thinking about the Nokia acquisition of NavTeq and Google phone. I asked myself what if Google was going to use Nokia for the handset in place of HTC. The more I thought about it the more I thought the combination would be a great one. Google the King of the services and Nokia the King of the device (sorry Apple). Google has cash, developers and the applications. Nokia makes great handsets and now adds content critical for the age of the location aware and networked phone. Wow, if they got together Apple would be screwed. I know Eric Schmidt is on the board at Apple but man imagine a Google powered Nokia N95. I think Google and Nokia would make a powerful pair.

Just my 1.5 cents worth.

Living in the Now

There is nothing like the pure unadulterated joy I see in my Daughters eyes. I see it when they are swinging on swings, running through sprinklers and when they giggle. I guess my point is we spend a great deal of time thinking about the future and what can be, all the while sacrificing what is now. We miss so much at times for so little.

Be Still. Be Now.

Don’t change your average get more at bats

Marc Andreessen continues to impress me, this time as a blogger. He writes today about how age relates to creativity, derived from an ongoing debate about how age relates to entrepreneurship. Marc provides a study by Dean Simonton covering his life’s work on the subject of age and creativity. The study by Dr Simonton is nothing short of profound and Marc even takes the time to break the study down into understandable chunks for us knuckle draggers.

This is a must read post. I’m not going to try and steal Marc Andreessen’s thunder just go and read his post.