Friday, June 19, 2015

Magic in the Gaps

In business, people often get promoted to their level of incompetence. Because it is a ladder system, if you do a good job, you climb a rung. You carry on climbing until you do a bad job. Then you stop climbing. I have also heard it called 'Reverse Darwinism'. You surround yourself by people slightly less clever than yourself. They surround themselves by people slightly less clever than them. In an ideal world you would want to stop climbing the ladder when you get to your peak performance, and you would want to surround yourself by people who are better than you at what they do.

The problem is we have very blunt tools for incentives. Traditionally responsibility and cash are the best signals that someone is doing a good job. Cash is supposed to be hush hush, so responsibility is a visible way. Most people care quite a lot about what other people think. Slowly but surely responsibility gets added on until someone can't cope.

A lot of magic happens in the gaps. We are only starting to scratch at the surface of how our minds work. We know computers are very good at doing exactly what they are told, over and over again. They are much better than us at 'unskilled labour'. We are much better than them at things that require creativity. They can beat us at Chess, but we still have them in Go. They beat us in Chess, not through creativity, but through blunt force and number crunching. They can't do that in Go.


Our creativity requires gaps. If we don't get enough sleep, or enough 'active inaction' then we become machines. We go onto autopilot when we are too busy. 'There may be a creative solution, but I don't have the time to figure it out. I need to get the job done.' We need to learn how to relax.

Perhaps a better reward would be to offer 'free space'? If the best performers worked shorter and shorter hours. 
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