Phase Transition: What Traffic Jams Teach Us About Office Politics
You’re driving home from work on a highway. The traffic is flowing well. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the highway turns into a parking lot of stopped cars. There’s no visible cause. There are no accidents in sight. Where did this traffic jam come from? And what does it have to do with office politics?
Counterfactual Reasoning: How to Ask Better What-if Questions
Suppose Jonny takes a drug and dies a month later, how do we go about investigating whether the drug might have caused his death? To answer this question (correctly) we need to imagine a scenario in which Jonny was about to take the drug but changed his mind.
What Disasters Can Teach Us About Good System Design
The Chernobyl disaster didn’t happen simply because of Soviet Communist top-down regime. The Challenger disaster didn’t happen simply because of the O-ring seals failure. These so called “root causes” are part of many reasons, and they are definitely not the main reason.
Working Hypothesis: How to Avoid Fooling Yourself
Facts don’t change our minds. The mind is stubborn, and no matter how strong the facts are, we undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. Ironically, the same brain that empowers rational thinking also skews our judgments.
Circuit Breakers: How to Walk Away from the Best Deals
The best deals are the ones you can walk away from. This is taken to the extreme when you face a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is slipping off your hands. How do you decide whether to press harder, or to give up? Mountaineer Ed Viesturs may have something to teach us.