𝐓𝐡𝐞 ‘𝐈 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐃𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐬’ 𝐅𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤
If you’re young and debating which career to pursue, remember that your choice will also decide how fast you’ll learn, how well you’ll learn, and your attitude toward failure and success for the next several decades. Even if you’ve made this consequential decision of your life, you may find something of value in the framework I propose.
👉Picture a 2X2 matrix with validity (low to high) and feedback (poor to rich) as the axes. Validity indicates the ease of measurement and richness of feedback is how quick and clean it comes.
In the top right is the high validity-rich feedback quadrant. You’ll find here firefighters, pilots, sportsmen, cooks, nurses, electricians, carpenters, social media writers. Errors are easy to track. If you ask this lot what works, they may say it depends and then go on to list exactly what.
The bottom left quadrant covers the low validity-poor feedback professions: doctors, knowledge workers, admissions officers, radiologists, novel writers. Their assumptions often remain untested and they tend to use hindsight to reinforce their thinking. Their expertise is shrouded in mystery. If you ask them what works, they may say it’s complicated.
Funnily enough, those in the bottom left may put a big price on experience even though tracking errors and improving performance are hard. So they simply equate experience with expertise. We’ve all broken a cold sweat while being under the charge of a doctor who looked too young.
Think of the constraints under which a doctor tracks the quality of her intervention. She can’t run any test she wants, she has to base her opinion on the patient’s ability to articulate the problem, and it is hard to track the patient beyond clinic visits.
Now think of how outcomes are tracked in an organization. Be it an M&A or a market entry, you decide with incomplete information and receive noisy and delayed feedback. It may be months before the results are seen. Even then, it’s hard to say for sure what caused what. There are too many variables outside your control.
What happens then? Contradictory data tends to get ignored; confirmatory data, accepted.
As the book 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘉𝘰𝘹 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 says, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐱 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐮𝐫𝐞. But in some professions you may not have ready access to the error signal. If you’re in one, stop believing the larger-than-life personas of those successful in your domain. And instead think about how you’re tracking your improvement across time. Are you using hindsight to reinforce your thinking or are you being honest about your mistakes?