Overcoming the Planning Fallacy with Agile

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Time management is hard, predicting how much time it will take to accomplish a task is even harder. This second challenge is attributed to the Planning Fallacy, after Daniel Kahnemans and Amoz Tversky’s influential paper on “intuitive prediction” in 1979.

Proposed solutions to overcoming the planning fallacy, by using past similar projects to estimate the amount of time needed, is like the Agile Practice of calculating “Velocity“.

Velocity is a piece of the larger practice of Agile, but simply put is the discipline of tracking past efforts so as to be better able to predict the amount of future work one can do in any given time frame. The Agile movement revolutionized the ways of working within the software development field and is slowly being integrated into other business disciplines in one form or another.

Here are a few resources to learn more about various agile practices and frameworks: Scaled Agile Framework; Agile Alliance; Scrum.org. Also keep an eye out for a future series of posts here diving a bit deeper into Agile and it’s history.

p.s. Shout out to The Comprehensivists for sharing the Quartz article

This or That is Marketing

Marketing, refers to all advertising done through both paid and owned marketing channels. It’s about creating messaging that drives a targeted action, and it’s key to “hitting plan”. At least that’s how most people think of marketing, as tactical work by an organization trying to sell something.

Marketing, however, is so much more and so much deeper than that. Those who understand this are at an advantage, so I’m always looking for ways to reframe it.

David Perell’s That Is Marketing is like Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing.

David and Seth both eloquently and quickly strip marketing down so as to build it back up into something stronger. They’re not just worth a read, they’re worth truly thinking through.

Jack Bogle rings an alarm on index funds

The passing of Jack Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, resulted in an abundance of articles highlighting his massive contributions to the financial world. The vast majority of them celebrated his creation of the Index Fund due to how it has lowered costs for the common investor. It’s particularly interesting then, to read Jack Bogle express concerns with the risk his own invention created.

His concerns are like another WSJ article written a year earlier, Index Funds Are Great For Investors, Risky For Corporate Governance.

At the heart of both articles is the concern of how, as index funds grow, institutional investors (State Street, Vanguard, etc) gain power governance of the companies invested in, but don’t necessarily carry the same incentive or capacity to contribute responsibly as voting members.

Historically, most financial catastrophes the US has suffered through have come about by not preemptively problem solving when risks are identified. Currently, this issue has only been raised by a handful of thought leaders within the financial industry. Beyond sharing this message to raise awareness, you can act directly by contacting the SEC.

Experience, an alternative education

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The world of higher education is full of opportunities and ideas for improvement, and it’s always interesting to discover unique ideas to address them. Isaac Morehouse came up with an interesting alternative to college in his Praxis Apprenticeship program. Praxis is an experience and project focused opportunity for high school graduates to jump straight into the world of business through a 6-month “boot camp” that includes working for a start-up.

This idea is like the unique and intensive MBA program Acton School of Business.

Although serving different markets, these two programs appear based on a similar philosophy that centers on an intensive and immersive curriculum paired with comprehensive educational support. Praxis is still early in it’s journey to change the field of education but if their graduates are as ambitious, driven and capable as Acton’s, there’s hope for a new avenue of higher ed.

To dig deeper into this way thinking, check out Seth Godin’s post on projects.

John Bogle, an investment innovator

John Bogle, the pioneer of index funds and the founder of Vanguard group, died at 89 yesterday. Those in the investment world, and largely in business too, appreciate his innovation and the impact it had for the common investor.

In an age where technology can solve everything and things of the past are treated as “outdated”, it’s worth pausing to recognize that the Index Fund is like robo-investing (e.g. Robinhood, Wealthfront) in it’s innovation.

Except, where robo-investing has potential, index funds have results.

RIP Jack.

p.s. An early 3-part series posted here on TILT was largely influenced by Jack’s index funds. You can read post 1 here.

Air warfare in Silicon Valley

Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup was a New York Times best seller and vaulted Eric Reis from a successful but relatively unknown entrepreneur, to a household name in Silicon Valley and beyond. His book challenged businesses to think less about developing the perfect product before launching and more about delivering a viable product sooner, and rapidly iterating on it until it “crosses the chasm“. His theory centers around the principles of being fast, observing the market, and pivoting quickly to improve the offering. While original in his writing and successful at changing how many thought about product development, he wasn’t nearly the first to change a field with these principles.

In this, Eric Reis is like John Boyd, the legendary USAF Colonel who revolutionized air warfare.

John Boyd’s greatest contributions came after his time as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. Boyd believed that it was speed and maneuverability in air warfare was the key to victory. This belief led to the creation of the Lightweight Fighter program, which, after several iterations, gave birth to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and several other innovative aircraft. His focus on maneuverability went hand-in-hand with his theory-in-practice framework he called the OODA Loop; Observe-Orient-Decide-Act.

Both Eric Reis and John Boyd believed in the importance of speed and the ability to respond quickly in gaining victory. Like most great ideas, theirs were developed with the help of others and on the ideas of those before them. The OODA Loop was developed around the time of another loop that was gaining traction in the manufacturing field, the Deming Cycle. Which at their cores, are all simply variations of Bacon’s Scientific Method.

This idea of winning through action, learning and improving has shown up time and again in various forms because it works. While simple in concept, organizations can struggle to implement it if they don’t commit to building towards speed and being disciplined in its execution. For those who do, however, victory is likely theirs.

To read more on Boyd and the OODA Loop (vastly underappreciated), start here.

Winning in war, basketball and life

The Navy SEALs have many maxims, and when it comes to running a good mission they remind each other “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

This is like John Wooden’s maxim, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again.”

There are a lot of differences between the Navy SEALs and John Wooden. However, with one being the greatest fighting force the world has known and the other the greatest college basketball coach, they are both unequivocally elite.

The world has only gotten faster since John Wooden’s time, which only makes his point more important. If it’s important, do it right, do it once, and win the war.