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The perils of constant feedback

The perils of constant feedback
My friend is a product manager at a popular consumer tech company, and he was lamenting the rise of metrics-driven development. "If we send a single push notification, 7% of people open the app," he said. "But if we send two push notifications, five minutes apart, 12% of those people open the app."


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The App Notification Analogy

The App Notification Analogy

When we observe App notifications, there is a correlation between the number of notifications sent by the App and the probability that the user opens it.

If the number of notifications is high, there is a greater chance of the user opening the app, while at the same time, a greater risk of annoying the user. This analogy plays the same in the area of the feedback that we receive for our actions.




Absorbing Feedback

Absorbing Feedback

The Gradient Descent, which is a machine learning technique used in a neural network, provides us with this insight:

  • If we take absorb too much feedback for our actions towards our goal, we will move extremely slow and can fall back or settle for some mediocre solution.
  • If we ignore all feedback and just act, we may probably never reach our goal.

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    Changing Your Feedback Frequency

    The way to overcome the problem of "Feedback Frequency" is to change your 'Step Size', which is inversely proportional to the feedback received. This is done by:

    • Slowly Decreasing Step Size: Take less feedback in the beginning but increasing it as you move closer towards your goal.
    • Cycling between small and big Step Size: Taking less and more feedback in intervals.
    • Increasing the momentum of Step Size: Taking more feedback in the beginning and as you learn, decrease the amount of feedback and move forward faster, using the momentum.

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      Mark Twain

      “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

      Mark Twain

      The most useful learning

      Most people think about learning as adding knowledge and skills. You now have a new fact in your mind that didn’t exist before.

      The most useful learning isn’t usually a strict addition of new knowledge, but first unlearning something false or unhelpful.

      Types of Unlearning

      • Straightforward refutation of the old idea. This complete refutation is atypical. More likely the new knowledge doesn’t contradict the old one, but it may modify it in some way.
      • The new knowledge revises a simpler picture by filling it with more complex details. This is similar to adding new knowledge, although because the older, simpler view of the issue has been overwritten with more detail, there is some unlearning going on.

      3 more ideas

      Jordan Belfort's life

      ... was modelled by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013

      Lessons from the real Belfort

      • The importance of thinking big. "Belfort thinks very big, he talks in very big numbers."
      • The dangers of instant gratification. "people say ‘well instead of an inch how can I get a mile,’ and often times they’ll sacrifice honesty, integrity, whatever it is within their moral compass that will allow them to get there quickly.”
      • Most people will go through a disassembling.“If you aren’t experiencing pain you don’t question reality and seek different ways of going about things.”
      • Whatever it is that disassembles is typically linked to our highest values. For example, if money is of the highest value in your life, as it was for Jordan Belfort, the ego around money must dissolve. Same goes for relationships, or whatever you value most in life.

      Cognitive biases

      Cognitive biases

      ...are common thinking errors that harm our rational decision-making.

      We don't always see things as they are. We don't simply glean information through the senses and act on it; inste...

      Optimism Bias

      Is our tendency to overestimate the odds of our own success compared to other people's. 

      Overly optimistic predictions can be dangerous, leading us to waste time and resources pursuing unrealistic goals. In the real world of business, things don't always work out for the best, and it serves us well to know when conditions are not on our side.

      How to control the optimism bias

      • Be skeptical of your own rosy expectations for your work. 
      • Assume projects will be more difficult and more expensive than you initially think they will. 
      • Don't trust your good ideas to manifest through positive thinking - be ready to fight for them.
      • Trust the numbers. Numbers are firm but fair, and getting intimate with your business's cash flow can help you make more rational decisions.