Mix of concrete & abstract

Mix of concrete & abstract

I’m in full belief that we need both concrete GSD (get shit done) and abstract long term thinkers. The ideal is someone who can cycle thru both at the right time and efficiency. This is very rare. So at times, you will need two people to play these parts. If you can’t do both of these well yourself, find a team member (whether peer, manager, or managee) with whom you balance out.

Side Activity: which one are you?

See Andy Grove’s High Output Management for more:

“Ideally, decision-making should occur in the middle ground, between reliance on technical knowledge on the one hand, and on the bruises one has received from having tried to implement and apply such knowledge on the other. [Put another way: a balance between in the weeds evaluation AND the abstracted, seasoned evaluation of how to throw the best bowling ball to take down a series of pins.] To make a decision, if you can’t find people with both qualities, you should aim to get the best possible mix of participants available.”

Example of this playing out at an org: Former PhDs vs. Former Consultants. (Fairly stereotyped for this example, but let’s try)

  • Consultants are not incentivized for long term thinking. They’ve excelled at dropping into a new scenario, taking a bigger picture view, but then offering suggestions of impacts *now*… without the incentive or “burden” of something those suggestions through
  • PhDs on the other hand have a lot of experience with long term thinking. And getting in the weeds.
  • So which ends up being most useful? A former PhD who responds to a strategic question with a 30-page deep technical review and long term suggestions? Or a former Consultant with a 1-page abstract sheathed in “80/20” suggesting activities to take now?
  • Similar to the Wizard and the Prophet (see Charles Mann’s book), the best is a balance of both
  • NOTE: For more, see: http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/09/12/in-the-balance/