Currently, I’m reading “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis.
It’s a follow-up to “Moneyball,” his account of Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta, and the use of Sabermetrics to reinvent the Oakland Athletics. They were the poorest team in the league and yet were able to put together a team that nearly won the World Series multiple times.
This book goes into the “brain science” behind decision making. While Moneyball tackled the math, more or less, The Undoing Project seeks to answer why decisions are made at all levels. And then why some of the dumbest decisions are hailed as genius.
Basically, why are millions of dollars blown on players who never pan out?
Luckily, Lewis is brief when it comes to the math and skillfully handles the psychology so that I can follow it. I’m already bad at math, and diving deep into someone else’s mental processes is not an easy task for me either.
But what The Undoing Project, and Moneyball, do is seek to answer the usual questions someone would have about such things. Of course, the average person isn’t too concerned with decision analysis on a daily basis. Unless they’re a decision analyst.
And if they’re not a statistician, then they couldn’t care less about numbers and what they mean.
Thankfully, I fall into neither category.
Both books, on the other hand, help me to understand, albeit in a rudimentary way, the foundations of both and how they’re being put into use at a high-level in the military, government, and business.
The frequently-asked-questions are answered and I’m free to move onto other questions that may not be so blatantly obvious. For example; if interviews have been proven to be so inadequate at evaluating someone’s performance before they begin a job, why hasn’t there be a push to formulate a better way, or at least improve interviewing?
Still waiting on that answer.
Bob, not his real name, is an executive coach. He consults with high-level leaders and managers in businesses to help them run their organizations more efficiently. On any given week he meets with roughly eighty to ninety individuals to discuss progress, troubleshoots issues, and answer questions.
One thing Bob noticed was that he was answering similar questions among most of his clients. The questions were important but ones that Bob was seeing again and again in almost every meeting he had. And it took time for each client to implement a reasonably simple solution.
So Bob came to me and asked for help in writing out typical solutions to these common questions. It wasn’t that Bob hated answering them, he just saw how a common issue was prevalent in his industry, and how it could be solved easily. Therefore, clients of his could read it in a blog post, article, or a book, and implement the solution themselves.
Then, if they had more complicated or unique challenges, they could still come to him and work on finding a solution. It would save them and Bob some time.
These business issues had little to do with math and a lot to do with psychology.
Again, I am no pro here.
But sitting down with Bob for a few sessions and talking over his common solutions for the issues helped me to understand what it was that Bob was trying to say. And given that Bob had a full schedule of meetings, it made sense to delegate this task out so he could still do what he loved- coaching C-Level executives and not have to commit time to something he knew wasn’t a strong skill of his- writing.
I’m happy to say that the articles we’ve written together have had a positive effect on his clients. And I’m even happier to report that I didn’t have to have an advanced degree in the subject to help Bob out. All I was really doing was taking Bob’s knowledge and putting in the page in an engaging way. There was some editing too.
Books are a great way to package knowledge for quick and easy distribution. Having an FAQ page on your website is a good place to start. A book, however, can give much more detail and explanation.
Podcasts are also a great way to do that and feel free to visit my podcasts page to find some answers to common FAQ’s as well.
And of course, check out these blog posts for more answers coming soon!
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