Differences between decision making and execution

The decision maker and the executor operates with different cognitive models.

The decision maker

The decision maker operates within an environment of incomplete information. He takes in conflicting signals from the environment to figure out the underlying Markov Chain that holds his environment altogether.

A successful decision marker minimizes the price paid for knowledge of each section of the Markov Chain.

Each success unlocks more resources that could be redeployed to this activity.

Inner fortitude is the primary trait required to navigate the high failure rate inherent to the nature of this activity.

Perpetuate accumulation of mental models from different domains reduces taken to form judgement while  increasing overall batting average.

The executor

The executor operates within an environment that has been made predictable by the activities of the decision maker.

He is predisposed towards systems, structures and processes. A successful executor measures and optimizes with the goal of increasing yield from a well defined process while minimizing costs.

Disciplined consistency is the primary trait required to ensure continued excellence in this repetitive activity.

Concerns

A strong decision maker profile with a weak executor profile will feel repressed/bored when forced to operate as an executor in a structured environment.

An strong executor profile with a weak decision maker profile will feel overwhelmed when required to operate within an unstructured environment.

Related references

Book summary: The essential Drucker

Management: make people capable of working together to respond to change in the environment through:

  • common goals
  • common values
  • the right structure
  • proper training and development

Reasons for failure

  • Not innovating
  • inability to manage innovation

The goal of any business is to create a customer. A business does so by producing generate products and services the community wants in exchange for profits to sustain continued operation.

The goal of marketing is to know understand and know the customer so well the product sells itself

The Purpose of a business is the change it wants to effect in the community

The Mission is what it wants to do to effect the change

The Objectives are key tasks it will execute upon to achieve the mission.

Types of innovation

  • Product innovation
  • Social innovation
  • Management innovation

Waste as little effort as possible on areas of low competence.

First figure out how you learn to figure out how you perform.

Number two person often fails in number one position because top spot requires a decision maker.

Effective people are perpetually working on time management.

The first rule of decision is one does not make a decision unless there is a disagreement.

Determine the right organization size to fit the requirements of the mission.

Insights on managing Big Data from meet up with Dean and Ved

From Dean (Reputation.com)

  • Enterprise sales as an acquisition strategy is feasible because revenue per account ranges in the USD millions – e.g. 70 million USD
  • Once an auto company like Ford or GM signs up, they will start bringing their dealerships in
  • The infrastructure needs to be able to support the size of the data which can be up to billions of rows
  • Scaling of infrastructure to handle load ever increasing data becomes critical for the continued growth of the data company
  • Data Product will appear broken when user attempts generate report while the data is still being written into the database
  • The key challenge is that different solution is suitable for different operation
  • Types of data operation include
    • writing into the database
    • reading from the database
    • map reduce to generate custom view for data in the database to support different types of reporting for different departments in the client companies.
  • Successful data companies will create different layers of data management solutions to cater to the different data needs
    • MongoDB
      • good for storing relatively unstructured data
      • querying is slow
      • writing is slow
      • good for performing map reduce
    • Elastic Search
      • good for custom querying for data
  • Dev ops become a very important role
    • migration of data between different systems can extend up to weeks before completion
    • bad map-reduce query in codes while start causing bottlenecks in reading and writing causing the data product to fail
    • dev ops familiar with infrastructure might on occasion have to flush out all queries to reset
    • The key challenge is the inability to find bandwidth for flushing out bad queries within the codebase
  • Mistakes in hindsight
    • In hindsight lumping all the data from different companies into the same index on MongoDB does not scale very well
    • Might make better sense to create separate database clusters for different clients
  • Day to day operations
    • Hired a very large 100 strong Web Scraping company in India to make sure web-scrapers for customer reviews are constantly up
    • Clients occasionally will provide data which internal engineer (Austin) will need to look through before importing into relevant database
  • Need to increase revenue volume to gear up for IPO
  • The Catholic church has 10 times more money than Apple and owns a lot of health care companies.

From Dan (Dharma.AI), the classmate of Ved

  • Currently has 15 customers for their company
  • Customers prefer using their solution versus open source software because they can scale the volume of data to be digested and solution comes with SLA
  • Company provides web, mobile and table solutions which client companies’ staff can use in the field to collect demographic and research data in developing countries
  • The key challenge is balancing between building features for the platform and building features specific verticals:
    • Fields differ between industry: fields in the survey document for healthcare company will be very different for fields in the survey document for an auto company
    • Fields differ between across company size: survey format for one company might be different as compared to another in the same industry but of different size
    • Interface required is differs between companies
  • Original CEO has been forced to leave the company, new CEO was hired by PE firm to increase revenue volume to gear up for IPO

From Ved

  • As number of layers increase in the hierarchy, it becomes increasingly challenging for management to keep up to date on the actual situation in the market
  • New entrant of large establish competitor might sometime serve as an opportunity to ride the wave
  • when Google decided to repackage Google Docs for Education, it was a perfect opportunity for Edmodo to more tightly integrate into Google and ride that trend rather than being left behind
  • Failure to ride the wave will result in significant loss of market shares
  • It takes a lot of discipline to decide on just focusing on the core use case and constantly double down on it.
  • Knowing that a critical problem, which could potentially kill the company, exists versus successfully convincing everyone in the company that it is important to address it are two different things.

Book summary: Thinking in Bets

Thinking in Bets
Decision Theory Model

Overview

  • Good quality decisions do not always yield good outcomes
  • All decision makings in real life are made under uncertainty. All decisions are essentially bets about the future
  • Decisions made in Chess are not made under uncertainty because every single permutation can be pre-computed unlike Poker.
  • Most real life decisions are not zero-sum games

On outcomes

  • Real life outcomes are probabilistic
  • Outcomes are influenced primarily by the quality of our decision (skill) and luck
  • While the outcomes might not always be positive, having a process in place to constantly improve the quality of decision making will tilt the odds in our favor

Implications

  • Do not change strategy drastically just because a few hands did not turn out well in the short run
  • For each premise understand what the base rate is
  • Learn to be at peace with not knowing
  • Recognize the limits of our own knowledge
  • A great decision is a result of a good process. A good process attempts to accurately represent our own state of knowledge
  • Watching: It is free to learn from other people’s experience

Cognitive biases that impede good decision

  • Decisions are the outcomes of our beliefs
  • Hindsight bias impedes against quality decision making
  • Guard against black or white decision making
  • Availability bias means lagging any prior conflicting data, our default setting is to believe what we hear is true
  • Selective bias and consistency bias, means we are unwilling to change our mind despite contrary signals from the environment
  • Avoid attribution bias

Related Readings

  • Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Jon Von Neumann
  • Ignorance: How it drives Science, Stuart Firestein
  • Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert

Insight from dinner with Sujit

  • hard to find experienced PM with data background in the Bay Area
  • Mountain View just issued permit to build more houses. Price of existing houses got depressed by 10%
  • Dressing well allows ability to charge USD75 per hour more
  • Most data scientist hang out at twitter, vidhya analytics and Kaggle
  • Growth frameworks is the easy part, its getting everybody to row in the same direction that is hard.

Reflections on communicating with your users via email

While sending a personal email to each individual user who directly uses our API just now, it occurred to me the main difference between talking with someone you have relationship with (like your mum/girlfriend/wife…?) versus simply doing a mass email blast to a group of “strangers”, is the potential lack of warmth and empathy in the latter on the sender’s side.
 
No one really likes being treated like a number on a Excel sheet. It sucks.
The key challenge becomes how do you scale your communication as the amount of people you need to communicate with increases without alienating them. Or does it even matter?

Related Reference

  • Permission Marketing, Seth Godin

Reflections on maximizing output with limited resources

  • Embrace constrains. The main constrain anyone will experience is time
  • When constrain is acknowledged, one learns the importance of prioritization
  • When the importance of prioritization is acknowledged, one learns the need to horn one’s judgement and foresight through constant learning
  • When self aware of where one’s lack of judgement and foresight in specific domains, one learns the need to exercise prudence
  • When one learns the importance of prudence, one practices by utilizing minimal amount of resources to de-risk the maximum possible areas of uncertainty.
  • When one learns the importance of de-risking, one gives emphasis on strategizing and avoids blind execution.

Related references

  • The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt
  • Mastery, Robert Greene

Key take aways from the guide to a good life

A guide to the good life

Overview

The core of Stoicism as a philosophy is to live a good life (where peace of mind is deemed the highest good) by learning how to manage negative thoughts like:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • grief
  • envy

Techniques

This is done through the employment of these two techniques

Negative visualization techniques

  • Managing against hedonic adaptation by learning to desire what we already have. To do so, we must constantly remind ourselves the transient nature of things.

Focus of attention on what is within our loci of control

  • Totally within our control – focus our attention of these things
  • Partially within our control – internalize goals around parts where we have control
  • Totally out of our control – learn to be at peace with whatever outcome

Deliberate self denial

By deliberately depriving self the luxuries, one builds courage and self-control

Manage needs and desires

  • natural and necessary
    • Food and shelter
    • to fulfill
  • natural and unnecessary
    • Fine wine and luxurious food
    • to fulfill if not too much hassle
  • unnatural and unnecessary
    • fame and social status
    • to shun
  • unnatural and necessary
    • nothing exist in this category

Attitude towards time

  • The past and the immediate present is beyond change – be grateful for all that has came to pass and accept it with equanimity
  • The immediate future is where our loci of control falls – this is where we should channel our attention

Eras of stoiscism

  • Greek Stoics
  • Roman Stoics

The roman empire eventually adopted Christian religion as a the philosophical framework for state craft. This eventually displaced stoicism and other greek schools of philosophy.

Prominent stoic practitioners

  • Socrates
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Xeno
  • Seneca

Related schools of philosophy

  • The Cynics – see Diogenes
  • Enlightened hedonism – see Epicurus

Related references

  • Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Reflections for the morning

On communications

There are two types of communication observed. One that is very deliberate with the goal of effecting a very tangible outcome in an environment. The second runs on auto-pilot, with no constructive goals intended, driven purely by the hedonistic urge need to “feel” good, examples of which are bragging, angry out bursts and complaining.

For effective utilization of limited resources, cultivate type 1 behavior and stem out type 2 behavior.

On human resourcing

As with finding product market fit, the process of finding the right people for specific slots in the machinery requires persistent experimentation.

On personal psychology

To learn to be at ease with ambiguity   . Sometimes it’s more beneficial to leave specific without well defined rules.

To think of forthcoming phenomena in terms of probability and allocate necessary resources as according.

Related references

  • Machina, Sebastian Marshals
  • Thinking in bets, Duke Annie
  • How to live a good life, William Irving
  • What got you here won’t get you there, Marshall Goldsmith
  • Thinking fast and slow, Daniel Kahneman