#58 In the long run, optimism is the best prevention for regret.
Art of framing problems, ask culture vs guess culture & more
One snippet of Algorithm to Live By caught my attention (highlights are mine):
Upper Confidence Bound algorithms implement a principle that has been dubbed "optimism in the face of uncertainty." Optimism, they show, can be perfectly rational. By focusing on the best that an option could be, given the evidence obtained so far, these algorithms give a boost to possibilities we know less about. As a consequence, they naturally inject a dose of exploration into the decision-making process, leaping at new options with enthusiasm because any one of them could be the next big thing. The same principle has been used, for instance, by MIT's Leslie Kaelbling, who builds "optimistic robots" that explore the space around them by boosting the value of uncharted terrain. And it clearly has implications for human lives as well.
The success of Upper Confidence Bound algorithms offers a formal justification for the benefit of the doubt. Following the advice of these algorithms, you should be excited to meet new people and try new things – to assume the best about them, in the absence of evidence to the contrary. In the long run, optimism is the best prevention for regret.
There are many such gems in this book. This book has turned out to be a surprisingly good read. I’m surprised how a lot of our behaviour is very well explained in the same rational logical rules as computer programs.
And with that, let’s get to today’s finds.
1. Eigenquestions: The Art of Framing Problems
Shishir Mehrotra writes very detailed and insightful posts on his coda.io blog. This one about the art of framing problems is an interesting read. Here's how he defines problem framing:
Framing is the process of breaking down a problem into a set of choices, trade offs, and options that enable a team to make a call and move forward.
He goes on to talk about Eigenquestions and how to practice expert framing in your teams. Here's a simplistic definition of eigenquestion:
The eigenquestion is the question where, if answered, it likely answers the subsequent questions as well. Great framing starts by searching for the most discriminating question of a set — the eigenquestion.
He shares detailed examples from his Youtube & Coda work to drive home the points. Worth a read.
2. Communication playbook
If you are building communication policies for your team, then look no further. Gitlab has got a masterpiece on this. It covers almost all aspects of internal & external communication best practices. The treatment is simple and actionable (no theory or useless frameworks). You want to experience the depth?
Here're some of the topics/themes that it covers:
Determining which communication forum to use
How to make a company wide announcement
Smart note-taking in meetings
Writing style guidelines
3. On Micromanagement
Ben Horowitz makes the case for micromanagement in selective scenarios. He has used Andy Grove’s “Task Relevant Maturity” framework to support his argument. TRM & "Trust battery" have been the guiding principles in onboarding new team members in my team. I have found it easier to assess their readiness & help get their first wins in this manner.
I love the way Ben Horowitz has gracefully raised an objection to Marc Andreessen's ideas. They are partner in one of the most respected VC funds out there. And he did that on the official blog. It’s very rare that you see such a difference in opinions (even if that’s on nuanced details) shared in public.
For those who are keen to know Marc Andreessen’s point of view, head to this archive (the link in Ben’s post is broken)
4. Ask culture vs Guess culture
Adam Keesling shared an interesting snippet from a parenting blog. It talks of how Ask culture is so much more superior to Guess culture. I’m taking the liberty to take the snapshot from the tweet and post it here.
I find Ask culture is more open to exploration & thus encourages having unique point of views. Guess culture is more suited when following the norms is the preferred behaviour.
Observations in the last two paragraphs are super popular and offer useful insights on how to operate around the edges.
5. Courtroom Drama
The Hustle does some amazing long form posts. Their choice of subject and timing keeps them super exciting. From the storytelling to the infographics, they know how to engage the audience. Sample this one from last week covering The lucrative economics of expert witnesses. I’ve watched many courtroom dramas on the idiot box and was instantly drawn to the subject line. And it was worth the time!
Talking of courtroom things, have you ever wondered why they do “courtroom sketches”? A logical answer will cover capturing the courtroom drama in the world devoid of cameras. That's as simple as this. But there are many other nuances that make it a very interesting topic. Check this for an interesting story from the British courts. Today, it is an almost dying art form & profession. Hoping we will find some ways to preserve the goodness of it.
If you use LinkedIn posts to promote your blog/content, put any links in the first comment and not on the actual post. Their algorithm is tuned to punish any post that takes the traffic away from the platform and thus will reduce the reach of your post if you’ve put any link in the post. Ref this post for more details.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Youtube: What happens after TikTok songs go viral - interesting piece on economics of music industry, Tiktok’s magic & how they are coming together. Loved the detailed analytics that are in play here.
Web archives: Stamps with tiny little mistakes (I wonder how one notices so much and then dares to create a collection like this) the evolution of the elephant depiction throughout the middle ages up to the age of enlightenment (kudos to those artists who drew this stuff and then to the researcher who put it all together like this)
Twitter threads: One with two stuck ceramic bowls - High quality live action entertainment! One of those moments that make you wonder why this site is still free?
Interesting reads: Installing a payphone in my house (story of a geek - some mischiefs, some quirks)
Before we sign off, here’s tweet worth noticing.
That's all for this week, folks!
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