1/ Why Revive the BTC Tip Jar?
Back in 2012, at my first internship, I suggested that we supplement wages by listing a public...
Despite what popular lunatic, Paul Krugman, would have you believe - economies don't gain, in net...
Okay, I'm going to throw some dots out here that'll seem a bit all over the place, but I promise - they connect.
Let’s say that each department in an organization can volunteer up to $25k from their own budget [covering 2 interns] for a pilot incentive program — or even consider that the experiment risk is localized at the department-lead level — volunteering funds for the program from one’s own salary. What sort of diligence into recruitment & team management might that incentivize?
Random dot #1: Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence prods us to think of how our decision making, moral and/or experiential, would change if each moment we lived were it’s own eternity…
ie. If your life were looped infinitely, then every moment would be lived infinitely — and wouldn’t wasting time or doing things you felt badly about, etcetra — be intolerable? Therefore, you are incentivized to live morally and fully — in every sense of the terms — for your own eternal edification.
…then you might think the selection process for interns, in this example, would be heavily affected by this investment being felt at the hyper-local level.
Not only would you attract interns who valued a meritocratic experiment over security, but also, you would feel the investment into this asset personally. I’d think that might set your sights to potential leaders for your organization, as you’re personally banking on their value-add as a contributor to your venture’s worth, over the hunt for just an extra set of hands on deck — which many internships are relegated to.
Random dot #2 [less of a stretch than the Nietzschean one, I promise]: Milton Friedman’s, ‘The Four Ways You Spend Money’ [Sourced the following quotation from here] roughly go as follows:
This reasonable premise highlights a problem that becomes very obvious when performing broad diagnostics into how centralized systems tend to operate — the feet are far from the fire — and so, both attention to budgets and quality let slip.
You know, metaphors are amazing tools for communicating ideas really effectively, very quickly. Pull from common examples, or tangible examples in nature, to do the heavy lifting in pattern matching a new idea for yourself, or to audiences of the uninitiated to whichever niche concept, around which you’re wrapping your, or the group’s, arms.
Take the example of CIP, or Congenital Insensitivity to Pain - a disorder that prevents your brain from receiving signals that you are experiencing pain.
Those afflicted with CIP experience indifference to, for example, leaving your hand on a hot oven’s burner — until or unless other, far more latent sensors alert you that something’s off — ie. the smell or sight of the damage — possibly minutes later. This disorder is rare, but comes with a very high and tragically young mortality rate - for obvious reasons. Lesson here? Slow feedback loops yield fast ruin.
Taking a note from Nassim Taleb’s definition of a Stoic [heard here]…
“…someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking…”
…we can at least see, through this lens, that, among other critical functions— pain notifies us, helps us to rapidly re-calibrate damaging actions — towards more fruitful, or at least less painful paths.
Your nervous system and, for example, your ability to feel pain - hyper-locally - are constantly informed — and highly reactive; even before cognizance of the cause, effect and best plan of action, can possibly be set into action, top-down, from the center of that nervous system. Similarly, decentralized systems design for as many nerve endings to be as autonomous and incentivized towards optimal sensitivity as possible.
You want stewardship, accountability, rapid-response, constant information and feedback — and you want this to be physically, technologically, economically, and operationally enforced.
Astro Teller, Google’s Chief Innovation Officer, has spoken brilliantly on this topic. From gamification that takes into consideration those that will aim to game-the-game — to highlighting the importance of discovering points of failure in projects and project management, the man has definitely influenced my operational thinking.
Wasting time is the axiomatic sin. Time, while we exist on this mortal coil — in a linear paradigm, without any clones or uploads or anything — opportunity, and potential are our most precious resources [says the person who’s never really had to fight for food or water].
To invest time, resources, and energy into any thing or initiative that will bear no fruit — is a phenomenon to be hunted and eliminated as fast as possible, and with constant vigilance.
With that in mind — it’s unexpectedly important to design for and reward structured pessimism. What can go wrong? Why won’t this work? Is this worth our time? Is there anything more important we should be doing? Define importance. Define time value.
Normalize all the questions until the gauntlet that is trying to break all ideas, becomes as objective as possible — and either kills the time-wasting culprit, or hones the worthy effort into its strongest iteration.
Why is it so important to protect our time with this constructively-critical pipeline of doom? Because our capacity to invent, improve, and innovate reality-augmenting systems and technologies — acting as an elevator from the floor of natural reality to the plane of our pluralistic platonic planes — is too important to waste on an unchecked Schrödinger’s cat of opportunity cost.
We have entire swathes of the economy dedicated to maximizing this potential, the angels of our better nature, together with the devils of our innovation-generating laziness — constantly pulling us to get more and better things done, faster. From setting deadlines and announcing goals [ensuring humiliation if missed, at best, and professional ruin, at worst], to placing bets on our own achievement — we try to game ourselves as much as we do the systems we create and interact with.
Leveraging these inclinations, why not gamify a culture of innovation?
Need a good design proposal for a new feature? Ask for 30 low-fi proposals. Designers will have one or two ideas that quickly come to mind that they'll like, generating distinct enough iterations that they view as filler to meet the quota.
It's likely though, that in the process of generating filler to meet said quota of 30 low-fi designs, they’ll stumble upon a new idea — or new facet — that is superior to whatever few hi-fi designs would have been delivered.
The first stab is rarely the best, besides, the sheer friction that upping the count on unique ways to approach a solutions gives enough time to circle the concept for the discovery of a fatal flaw with the whole concept to begin with. Nicely executed concepts that weren't questioned early enough to catch fatal flaws [ie. this list] invest far too much, far too long, with exponentially stacking sunk costs - and killing bad ideas by rewarding fast failure is under-appreciated.
This illustrates the crux of 19th century French Economist, Friedrich Bastiat's illustration of the difficulty in quantifying Seen v. Unseen Damage in, 'The Parable of the Broken Window'. Briefly,
Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass?
If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation –
"It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?"
Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.
Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier's trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.
But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out,
"Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen."
It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.
Despite what popular lunatic, Paul Krugman, would have you believe - economies don't gain, in net or otherwise, when they incur destruction. Pertaining more specifically to incentivizing innovation in an organization - this is equally about rewarding success as it is about cutting losses as fast as possible.
Now, how might you leverage such disparate insights to design an operational system that naturally produces collaborative & healthy v. competitive and cannibalistic outcomes.
Well, that's what the much-abused field of tokenomics is aimed at addressing…