📆 003 About last week
mighta messed up...
⏲ First a lifehack. Last week I had a project that I did not want to work on. After two days of delay, I set a timer for 30 minutes and worked. It took 22.
Humans have a tendency to not like unknowns. So we avoid them. However, the timer solves this. It takes the unknown how much trouble is this going to be? and makes it known: 30 minutes.
🧮 I’m trying to be more Bayesian. This is Bayes’ theorem.
Err. Let me try this again.
I’m trying to be Bayesianesque.
Tyler Cowen put it this way to Russ Roberts:
Don’t take the big history books (Guns, Germs, and Steel or Sapiens for example) at face value. Take away that factor X is 3% more important than I thought.
That’s Bayesianesque reading.
🕵️♂️ Last week was about cheap solutions. There’s often a low-cost way to solve problems but it takes creativity, practice, and luck to find.
Chipotle’s line is a way to solve the waiting-I’m-bored-this-sucks problem. Kids are great at pointing this out.
Subtraction is often fertile because 90% of the time we think about doing something rather than removing something to solve a problem.
Framing is a way to turn a weakness (we don’t make merlot) into a strength (we make a red blend, which lets us source the best grapes each harvest).
Last week’s ideas were all true—conditionally.
Advice (noun): conditional guidance offered with regard to prudent future action but with unknown, implied, or implicit starting parameters.
👩🍳 There’s a story in the behavioral sciences that goes like this: Betty Crocker sold cake mixes but not that many people bought them. Hmm, the Crockerites wondered, what’s going on, these are so easy.
So, the Crockerites talked to their customers. They visited kitchens. They watched people cook. And they discovered this: they’d done their job too well.
That’s right. The cake mixes they sold were too easy. Their customers didn’t feel like they were actually baking.
Well, the Crockerites concluded, let’s make this a bit more challenging eh? We’ll give them the dry mix but they’ll have to add eggs, oil, water, milk, etc., and even mix it! And it worked! The cake mixes sold like crazy.
Jell-O had a problem. The product was super profitable for General Foods but not that many people used it. The recipe was kinda tricky and there weren’t that many special occasions for a special occasion food.
Hmmm, Dana Gioia wondered, why aren’t people buying this.
So Gioia talked to the customers. He visited kitchens. He watched people cook. He discovered this: they’d done their jobs too well.
The Jell-O was too economical. People didn’t want Jell-O as a treat. They wanted an easy activity to do with their kids.
We invented the Jell-O Jiggler, which was rather than creating an elaborate recipe, which was what we were trying to sell people for 40 years, simply a way that you could add water with your kids, put it in the refrigerator and have it ready as a finger food in one hour.
It was the way of using three times as much Jell-O for an occasion in which people would never use Jell-O, which is to make your own gummy bears. It became a mom-kid activity. We sold every box of Jell-O in the United States for several months.
Cake mixes were too easy, and when more difficult people bought more.
Jell-O mixes were too difficult, and when made easier people bought more.
💊 Most of the time Bayes’ Theorem comes out to talk about tests. If a medical test is 95% accurate and the prevalence rate is 5% and you sample 1,000 people how many false positives will there be?
That’s now how to use the theorem.
But most of our life isn’t about math like that. Most of our life is rules of thumb, habits, and heuristics. So let’s use Bayes’ Theorem in that way.
All advice is information
All information is conditional.
It’s not about moving lines or subtraction or framing as THE ANSWER TO ALL PROBLEMS. Rather, maybe those answers are slightly more relevant than we first thought. If they come up again, raise their importance. If they work again, raise it further.
Thanks for reading.