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Preston

@preston_k29

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We prefer complexity over simplicity

People tend to prefer complex solutions over plain ones.

  • Complexity can make products look more impressive - and marketers know how to take advantage of it by projecting authority and expertise.
  • Complex processes can give the illusion of productivity while really delaying decision-making.

@preston_k29

The power of simplicity: how to manage our complexity bias - Ness Labs

nesslabs.com

Simple thinking can lead to better plans, communication, and execution.

  • The KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) makes simplicity a key goal in design.
  • Less is more. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe always repeated this saying to stress the importance of extreme simplicity.
  • Simplify, then add lightness. A leader in the minimalist movement and founder of the Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman, urged his designers to simplify, then add lightness.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry
"It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

We associate complexity with expertise, innovation, and authority.

Complexity is often smoke and mirrors. Marketers are aware of the allure of complexity and will exploit our complexity bias by using jargon to impress rather than to inform customers. For example: “Utilising a Vita-Ciment® Complex, Kérastase Resistance Bain Force Architecte, is a strengthening shampoo that has been specially formulated to cleanse and fortify damaged hair at erosion levels 1-2”

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra
"Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better."

While simplicity can lead to innovative thinking, complexity is often used to impress rather than to help.

Complexity is not all bad. Some complexity is desirable. When things are too simple, it is often boring. The ideal level of complexity is a moving target - the more expert we become, the more complexity we prefer. We can find a good balance by asking if this complexity level adds to the experience or overcomplicates it.

We find old routines comfortable

Habits are comfortable. When we're stressed out, we tend to fall back on our old habits for two reasons:

  • The brain likes to know what is going to happen next. Routines are situations that have occurred often enough that you know exactly how events will unfold.
  • The brain wants to spend the least amount of energy on any particular activity. The less time you spend thinking about something, the less energy your brain uses on it.

Your brain loves routines. Here’s how to build new and better ones

fastcompany.com

Because routines feel so good, we may continue with them even when they don't serve our needs very well. Even if we could solve problems more simply, we will stick with the more complicated routine instead of noticing an easier solution.

Every once in a while, we need to take a step back from our routines and ask if they allow us to function effectively. By switching up routines, we can become more efficient.

Old routines can get in the way when we interact with technology at work.

Companies develop software platforms to automate processes that used to take hours when done by hand. Shifting out of our routine can help to automate many other tasks we still do by hand.

Some routines worked really well when you started them, but they have grown into a problem over time.

A classic example is email behaviour. People develop habits around email when they only received a few important emails. Over time, you may get more emails, but the habits you developed early on can get in your way of getting substantial work done.

For many people, the job you were hired to do initially can evolve over time as your career advances. You may start with a technical job and later become a manager.

Despite the change in responsibilities, your shift in routines may happen slower, resulting in being less effective.

It is important to reevaluate your routines every few months to find outdated routines.

  • Ask your colleagues about their favourite software tools, so you are aware of other ways to address issues.
  • Track the amount of time you spend on important tasks at work, and see if the time is sufficient for the importance of those tasks.
  • Look at the elements of your position that are critical for success. Then look at your routines to see if they support those goals.
Albert Einstein
“Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.”

The Kaizen Approach to Achieving Your Biggest Goal (The Philosophy of Incremental Progress)

huffpost.com

Stephen Covey
“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”

Kaizen, which means continuous improvement in Japanese was originally developed by Depression-Era management gurus in the US. The Japanese embraced the idea of improving and thriving in small steps, as opposed to working on a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).

The long, hard process looks difficult but is actually easy if we just focus on the small step that needs to be taken today, and do that consistently.

  • We are never done improving ourselves. We need to do certain things daily to achieve and maintain our success. The first steps are not easy, but taking small actions is progress, while not taking any action isn’t.
  • Kaizen is about the 1 percent improvement that we can focus on, and those daily 1 percent improvements compound over time.
  • Initially the improvements may not be noticeable, but in a span of months or years, the breakthrough improvements will start to be visible.

Setting a goal is easy, just like marking a date on the calendar. The real challenge is always the willingness to accept what we need to do daily to achieve those goals.

We need to design a system that has to be practiced daily, as the commitment to a process provides the compound effect. Example: Learning should not be limited to college, but should be a lifelong system imbibed in your pursuit of knowledge, enriching your life and making you a better person.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”

When we improve a little on a daily basis, big things occur over time. We need to stop focusing on radical, sudden improvements, as quick-fixes aren’t lasting anyway.

Consistent and sustainable gains are only achieved by small, incremental improvements on a daily basis.

The connection between walking and thinking
  • Walking changes our chemistry. The heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen to all the organs and the brain.
  • Walking promotes new connections between brain cells and increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region essential for memory)
  • Walking elevates levels of molecules that stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

Why Walking Helps Us Think

newyorker.com

The way we move our bodies changes the nature of our thoughts. When we stroll, the pace of our feet fluctuates with our moods. We can change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking faster or by slowing down.

While we walk, our attention is free to wander. Studies have linked this mental state to innovative ideas.

Studies suggest that spending time in green spaces can renew the mental resources that get depleted in man-made environments.

A crowded intersection provides numerable and immediate stimulations for the mind, but a walk in a park allows our mind to drift casually from one sensory experience to another.

Walking organizes our world around us. Writing organizes our thoughts.

In a forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, make a mental map of the world, choose a way forward and create that plan into a series of footsteps. In writing the brain has to review its own landscape, find a way through that mental terrain, and write down the resulting trail of thoughts.

The Motive

A simple fact like the motive for your business being profit or bottom-line oriented, or a genuine desire to help your customers, can be the reason for your success or failure.

Do You Have The Mindset Of A Problem Solver?

medium.com

Real Work

Entrepreneurship is a selfless endeavor. It is only when you genuinely are solving people’s problems, that you are going to win.

You will only make money if you really help your customers, not because you want to make money.

Start Small and Solve Problems

While having a grand vision is great, demonstrating the essence of your idea and solving the core issues of customers, no matter how small, can put you in the path to success.

The problem-solving mindset is the way to succeed, instead of grand self-delusional plans.

Improve decisions by focusing on the process

Most people assume that good decision making is choosing a course of action that leads to the desired outcome.

In reality, decision making is about how you end up with your decision, not what the decision leads to.

These Six Questions Will Improve Your Decisions - Darius Foroux

dariusforoux.com

Before making a decision, don't just ask the obvious questions like "what are my alternatives?" or "what are the consequences?"

Consider instead these questions:

  1. Why might my belief not be true?
  2. What other evidence might be out there?
  3. Are there similar areas I can look for to gauge whether similar beliefs to mine are true?
  4. What sources of information could I have missed?
  5. What reasons could someone else have to support a different belief?
  6. What other perspectives are there?

Asking yourself critical questions forces you to think about what you can't know.

Critical questions direct you to friends, mentors, communities, books, courses, and even podcasts for insights that encourage an outside perspective.

As you become open to other perspectives, remember that other people also don't have all the answers. Adopt a stance of not believing everything instantly.

Keep looking for evidence and other perspectives. When you have collected enough information, make your decision.

  • Analysis paralysis is very common. At some point, you get stuck in the process and can't make a decision. Don't let the fear of making the "right" decision paralyze you. There's no right or wrong outcome. Just outcomes.
  • Extinction by instinct. It is the belief that instincts are effective in decision making. However, it leads to rash decisions.
  • Information overload is when you ask too many people for their opinion. Stick to trustworthy sources and keep them to a minimum.
The actor-observer bias

When a person experiences something negative, they will blame the circumstances. When something negative happens to another person, they will blame the individual for their behaviors.

For example, when a doctor tells someone their cholesterol levels are too high, the patient might blame environmental influences. When they hear of someone else with high cholesterol levels, they think it is because of a poor diet or lack of exercise.

How Actor-Observer Biases Affect the Way We Interact With People

verywellmind.com

A possible reason is that when people are the actors in the situation, they are blind to their own actions.

When they are observers, they can easily spot the behaviors of other people.

The actor-observer bias can often lead to misunderstandings and arguments.

In an argument, both sides my respond that the other person started it. Each side thinks their own behavior is because of the situation, but the other's behavior is because of their character. They may think the other person is unkind while they are fighting because they were attacked.

How we make decisions

New studies examined the relationship between how people make decisions - if they make it rationally or emotionally - and how determined they are to defend that choice.

They found that when people make a choice based on feelings, they are more protective of that choice.

We’re More Likely to Stick to Decisions Rooted in Emotions

insights.som.yale.edu

  • For marketers: Drawing out a decision based on feelings could encourage a stronger allegiance among consumers. This could be achieved through subtle tactics like visuals instead of words, or colors instead of gray-scale.

  • For consumers: Choices that need steadfast commitment should be made with emotion instead of weighing up pros and cons. Choices that need frequent consideration should be made rationally.

John Green, Looking for Alaska
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.”

Imagining the Future Is Just Another Form of Memory

theatlantic.com

We use our memories to imagine the future

We predict what the future will look like by using our memories. This is how actions we do repeatedly become routine. For example, you have an ideas of what your day will look like at work tomorrow based on what your day was like today, and all the other days you’ve spent working.

But memory also helps people predict what it will be like to do things they haven’t done before.

An evidence that memory and imagining the future might go hand in hand comes from research related to amnesia patients. Studies show that when they lose their pasts, it seems they lose their futures as well.

Functional MRI scans made possible for researchers to discover that many of the same brain structures are involved in both remembering and forecasting.

You can remember facts and you can make entirely informational forecasts, but most of the time, when you recall something, you are reliving a scene from your memory.

You have a mental map of the space (you are able to hear, smell and taste elements and you are also capable of feeling the emotions you felt in that moment). Similarly, when you imagine something you might experience in the future, you are actually “pre-living” that scene.

Just as memories are more accurate the more recent they are, imagined future scenes are more accurate the nearer in the future they are.

When we attempt to imagine the more distant future, we are inclined to rely massively o a cultural life script (i.e, in the West, the script would go like this: go to school, move out of your parents’ house, get one or more college degrees, find a job, fall in love, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire, have grandchildren, die.)

If you can plan for the future, you’re more likely to survive it. But there’s are limitations as well.

Your accumulated experiences and your cultural life script are the only building blocks you have to construct a vision of the future. This can make it hard to expect the unexpected, and it means people often expect the future to be more like the past, or the present, than it will be.

There’s an extreme positivity bias toward the future: we think that future events are more important to our identity than the past events.

But we have to temper our expectations and keep in mind that no matter the degree in which we can dream up detailed scenes of things yet to come, these imagined futures are just our projections of our pasts. There most likely will be more suprises and even more disappointments than we have the willingness to predict.

Risk Compensation

Risk protection is normally done to minimize the harm a particular activity can do to us. There are various things we do to reduce our risk, to make ourselves safer.

Behaviour scientists point out that taking measures to reduce the harm we can do to ourselves, can actually make us take more risks, with the added knowledge that there is a safety check in place. This is known as Risk Compensation.

When Safety Proves Dangerous

fs.blog

  • When automobile safety laws were introduced, the drivers started taking more risks while driving, leading to more pedestrian accidents.
  • Children (and even adults) take more physical risks while playing a sport with protective gear.
  • Safety features like Anti-lock brakes in vehicles ended up increasing the accidents for taxi drivers in Germany
  • Child-proof caps on medicine bottles made parents careless about their being opened by kids, including the ones which don’t have the safety feature.

Having a safety device in place, and armed with the knowledge that we can push the envelope a bit, the appetite for risk increases.

  • People who have an emergency fund in place tend to be less careful about their investments.
  • People wearing a face-mask in this global pandemic feel like they are safer in crowded places (It’s a face mask, not an Iron Man suit).

This means that enforcing measures that supposedly make people safer, will lead to changes in behaviour almost like a reflex action, compensating for the extra safety and to maintain the ‘desired’ level of risk, making it a zero-sum action.

If something has been made safer (like fitting sports bikes with disk brakes) then it does not mean the risk has been eliminated, as it may just put a different group of people (like pedestrians) in increased danger. This is known as Risk Transfer.

  • Safety measures need to be invisible, and not marketed or glorified.
  • Prudent behaviour needs to be rewarded, giving people an incentive to stay within limits.
  • Taking an action to decrease risk isn’t always a good strategy. We sometimes end up just changing the nature of the danger.
  • A change for increasing safety may need further rules or measures for the right implementation.
  • When people feel less safe, they are, in fact, more alert and it leads to fewer or milder accidents. This is seen when people drive with extra care in foggy or icy roads.

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