Keep learning. You’ve only touched the edge of the issue. Develop your judgement, which is essentially decision making under uncertainty. Pattern matching: keep growing your pattern matching database, and be very conscious about it.
Heard on the a16z podcast for March 26, 2018 with Andy Rachleff, Wealthfront founder and CEO.
I asked a whole bunch of designers what books, which weren’t specifically about digital or graphic design, inspired them.
Looking at the list I noted I’ve read four of the twelve books: 4, 7, 10, 12. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is one where I’ve purchased extra copies and given them to friends, especially those who say “I’m not visual” or “I’m not really a designer.” It’s a fun format, different from most other books I generally come across.
Decision journals are designed to create a log of the decisions you’ve made and why you made them. To both capture a snapshot of your thinking at the start, then use the notes to improve your decision making process when you review it later.
I haven’t made this a standard practice yet, probably because it feels like too much overhead. These days when reviewing success and failure I find myself reflecting back without a full picture of where my mind was at the start. What have a I learned in between? Will I repeat the same mistakes? How can I repeat the top bets that paid off?
For example, for a given decision, what do I expect to change? What am I betting on, and how will I know if I’m right or wrong?
In 2018 I hope to be better at stating my intentions ahead — taking the time to create the snapshot of my thinking at the start. Blogging this publicly to keep myself accountable for journaling the decisions at the start.
Bonus: Two recent mental models for framing your decisions as “bets” that I’ve come across, in case you find them helpful.
Ray Dalio’s expected value calculation in Principles (see my book review):
Make your decisions as expected value calculations. Think of every decision as a bet with a probability and a reward for being right and a probability and a penalty for being wrong. Suppose something that has only a one-in-five chance (20%) of succeeding will return ten times (e.g., $1,000) the amount that it will cost you if it fails ($100). Its expected value is positive ($120), so it’s probably a smart decision, even though the odds are against you, as long as you can also cover the loss.
This book is now a “daily devotional” for me; less holy scripture and more mindset for effectiveness in business, life, relationships. The improvement on my thought patterns was immediate: I noticed the ideas and principles coming up in daily work and life conversations, the mindset for effective time tracking and outward focus on contributions accelerated my career growth, and I deepened my understanding of business and how best to run an organization.
My all-time favorite — now well-worn and bookmarked — is September 4, “Practices of Effective Executives.” A distilled summary from his bestselling book of the same name.
The September 4 “Daily Drucker” reading details the five practices for effectiveness: 1) know where your time goes 2) focus on outward contributions 3) build on strengths 4) concentrate on superior performance and 5) make effective decisions.
Which ties perfectly into Ray Dalio’s masterpiece where decision making is a key theme.
As I said in the beginning, this book hit me with a wall of new insights. I’m still processing it after 3 reads! Hat tip, Matt.
Top highlights of the book for me:
A winning formula: meaningful work + meaningful relationships + making a living. This ties in well with the freedom and mission that WordPress and Automattic stand for—a livelihood for anyone in the world with a website, blog, or shop.
Good principles are effective ways of dealing with reality.
Beware ego block by remembering that you’re looking for the best answer, not simply the best answer that you can come up with yourself.
Use pain to trigger quality reflections, learn what causes your pain and what you can do about it. This is the most effective habit Ray developed over 40 years.
Practice being open-minded and assertive at the same time, and think about your and others’ believability when deciding what to do. Find the most believable people possible who disagree with you and try to understand their reasoning.
Ideas versus decisions. Meritocracy is for hearing everyone’s voice — not for everyone making the decision.
You’ll find much, much more in the book; see also the book’s website: principles.com and social media. On LinkedIn Ray’s been sharing the most popular principles as readers give him feedback — with short audio clips.
I suggest buying both electronic and the hard copy. In 2018 I’ll share more thoughts and insights from the book, plus share experiences and learnings from putting the principles into practice.
What were your top books from 2017? Did anything become a must-read or daily habit?
As an Automattic employee and team lead I’ve benefitted directly from these perks and benefits — from private leadership coaching in a 1-1 setting to in-person training course led by Reboot to diversity & inclusion speakers and courses. We’ve upped our game and it’s already born fruit in my own teams and relationships, as well as given me new resources and ideas.