Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Copernican Problem (Tradecraft)

When things are going poorly in the business, I tend to blame myself. I look internally at processes. I consider working longer hours. I wonder if I missed an important sales trend. Was there rain? How about a presidential election? Do I need a vacation?

When things are going well, as they are now, I give credit to the economy. I notice that the population of my county has increased 1.4% in the last year. Perhaps the unseasonably warm weather has kept my high rollers from their ski seasons.

Both approaches are nothing but superstition. Sure, you can give away all the credit and take all the blame, just as the complex calculations to show the sun revolving around the Earth had little day to day consequences to medieval life. Stock market jockeys do this all day long, but they're describing history, the past, which has no bearing on their behavior tomorrow.

The problem with an improper analysis is you don't grow. You'll never get to the moon with those planetary calculations and you'll never figure out what does and doesn't work in your business, accentuating the positive and removing the negative. These are psychological tendencies we employ to avoid painful hubris. The thing about business though, is you did it. Take the credit quietly. And you screwed it up. Take the blame as well. But ditch the superstition. Find the truth.

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