Monthly Archives: December 2012

monopoly

Business is a Game.

Business is a game with many players. You have customers, partners, workers, and yourself. All of these players have different payoffs. Some it’s an emotion (customer), or cash (worker/partner) or profit (yourself). It does not really matter what business you are in, it’s really played by the same rules, maximize cash/profit, minimize work.

Some times the rules of the game are known, but most of the time they are not. People will tell you they are working for something called A but they are really just working for B but they can’t tell you that. Customers are also telling you they want something, but most of the time they just want more of something like money or time, or less of something like stress.

For those of you reading a business book on how to make your millions. Keep in mind the author can’t tell you everything that worked for them because some stuff might not fit the theme of the book, or wouldn’t help the sale of the book. They also might leave out something so you can buy the next book from them. (I’ve yet to find one detailing how they got 100+ 5 star reviews on day of launch.)

For those of you working a job in a corporation be careful, you might think you are working for the company to do better, but it might just be that’s not the important game, it’s watching out for your peers trying to get your job or your promotion.

For those of you out there that are freelancing, your customers might not really know what they want either. They might tell you they want X but they really don’t know and also they don’t want to sound stupid so they will tell you they want X, but they really might just need Y or something close to Z.

For those in software, you might be learning a new methodology like Agile. Agile is just a game designed to get you to work more efficient and communicate better.

Advice: Before starting any game, sketch out the players, rewards/payoffs for each, and your best guess at the rules. Also, checkout game theory 101.

Cheers To The Un-Science!

I wrote this article 5 years ago, about the unscientific age we live in. We also love to correlate things and assume they are causal.

As I read some business books over the holidays it seems these items are also very selected correlated items. About how if you do A, B and C you will succeed in business. While many of these books leave out vital back-stabs or other non-flattering vital causal clues to the authors success. They don’t mention those of course because the book would not sell as well.

I was also reading about a new study on Warming of Antartica, and am reminded again about how this only works because people don’t understand science. I see the story and say, well, it looks like that hypothesis was wrong. I wouldn’t use a wrong hypothesis to support the same theory, but then again I’m not trying to sell newspapers or visits to a website.

The most popular story over the past few days was the End of The World. Which never happened, of course. At some point though something will happen and it will be “proven correct” because there’s always so many people claiming to know the future, and by chance one person will be correct.

But despite all the un-science out there in the world, the best un-science is the time I’m spending with my wife & daughter.

Updated Site

scottpreston.comI’ve decided to refresh the theme of my blog. You may notice it’s simple, and minimalist in style. You won’t find it changing too much in the coming weeks, except for a few more pages or widgets on the sidebar, and maybe a header image or two.

Correlation vs. Causation

What’s the difference between being linked and being caused? If I tell you that every time I dropped a water balloon on the ground it broke. You could say gravity caused the water balloon to break. But what if I didn’t tell you were always filling the balloons to their maximum capacity and they were dropped on rough, almost sharp concrete, would you make that same conclusion that gravity caused water balloons to break?

What if they were half full and landed on grass and none broke? Would you conclude that gravity does not cause water balloon breakage?

It seems today the public DEMANDs an explanation for everything, if A, then B. But in just about every case it’s never that simple.

The real explanation of why a water balloon breaks is when the pressure of the water inside the balloon exceeds the tensile strength of the rubber. Sharp objects exert more force per unit square meter than other items such as grass or perfectly flat surfaces. However this is too complicated for journalist catering to a public with poor and getting worse science understanding and desire to create sensation and get attention.

To truly know something is causal  (A implies B) is hard and takes time.

Don’t confuse correlation with causation. While these examples sound funny, you can read about them every day, especially with medical studies and social sciences.