Sheepdog

Abhi Yerra

This company is first and foremost an experiment. It is an experiment to create a People-first Organization, that empowers people to move forward with their goals and ambitions while advancing our Vision. Our main product is the company. It is our Philosophy that we are developing and validating and as a side-effect creating profit. We need to create a company that fulfills itself by creating a People-first Philosophy and follows its Principles to get there. We will work diligently by carefully picking the battles where we can provide value, create a stake in the ground, and advance 1% everyday to create tectonic shifts towards our Vision. What we choose to work on and the team, customers, and partners we work with must all be people and organizations that lead us to our Vision through our Principles. It is the role of every person in the organization to test and falsify our Philosophy. If something doesn’t hold overtime, we must modify it and test again or remove the principle, and these changes must be incorporated completely.

There will always be something new that will move the needle towards our Vision and that means actively experimenting and progressing towards that Vision while taking calculated bets. These Principles guide us through any change. The Five Principles are: Customer First, Hacker, Long Term Thinking, “People, Ideas, Technology. In that Order”, Observe-Orient-Decide-Act, Operational Excellence and Sheepdog.

Time from order to collect cash remove any nonvalue adding tasks.

Customer First

Being competitor focused or product focused leads to not actually solving the customer’s problems and being blind to what the customer actually wants. The best way to know what people want is to figure out what problems they have and then solving for that problem. There really is no other way. You can solve for your problems only for so long, and you can only follow your competitors and the product based approach for so long. The problem with this is that others are defining what we are doing because we are following them. If we build a product then find the customer then we may be building a product that no one wants. All of these are easily avoidable if we put customer first. The customer knows what they want and have the best knowledge about how to solve a problem. We are just guessing otherwise.

Always start by optimizing for the customer success even if it means doing things manually that don’t scale. Do the work to make them succeed. Do the work fast and to a high bar and always seek to understand how you could make it better for the customer. Take this input and optimize your workflow after the fact for the next customer, and the customer after that, and after that. If you are starting from the vantage point of product and making the product work for how you think a customer interaction should work it doesn’t work. You either overcomplicate it or you peg a customer into a hole that you don’t understand. The best way is to start with them, figure out their problem and what they are facing and from there work backwards to solve the problem in a more generalized fashion. Solve it like an inductive proof. Solve for one customer, and then move to solving for n.

Solve the problem for the customer then figure out how to create a process for it. The latter works much better because well you released something and worked on a problem and solved a problem as opposed to creating a process that may not actually hold true for super long. It creates complexity since you imagine you need to do something automatically that can be done manually. Solve it quickly by hand, then go back and optimize.

What does customer centric mean? One of the struggles I’ve had is that I always place my fun over solving people’s problems. This is exactly WRONG.  I feel like I have to solve my problem first. Certain things in life that is true. But for business the most important thing to do regardless of anything else going on is to solve your customers problems. How can you improve their life? For a business there is no one whose problem you can solve faster than your customers. The happiness of the customer is paramount unless it is unethical or infringes on our team.

Solving a problem for a customer, you realize couple things:

We live in a world where people have accesss to everyone and everything. So the only thing that stands out is work that delivers. Deliver and delight our customers. If they are unhappy, we need to obsess over making them happy. If they don’t see from our vantage we need to pull them to our view. Nothing is as important.

What we do is ensure the customer is happy. From there we do the work that is more important for the customer. We delegate all work that is not helping us engage with our customers. This way our processes are building off customers as the first element of that equation. If we can help them we can build the tooling and process in reverse and figure out who to hire. If we start with product or competitor first we may be looking backwards instead of figuring out and hiring based on what the customer needs.

Finally, all sales and marketing needs to be from the vantage of helping the customer first. Seek to help them figure out everything else. What we can do is to solve people’s problems. Don’t worry if others copy you instead.

Frankly, customer first is hard. It requires building empathy and understanding where people are coming from. Understanding their backgrounds, where they want to go and what they want to accomplish. Everyone is a Hero in their journey and it is important for us to remember that we are supporting cast in the customer’s journey. We are there to help them accomplish their goals.

Pull System

It can become too easy to build something that no one wants. Instead build the system that solves our customer’s problem. Using a pull system is to figure out what they need instead of building it and then figuring out if they need it. This is as opposed to the Push system when you build the product or service and figure out if the customer needs it. This method is usually a waste of time since you don’t know if it is a problem people have.

Instead, by using the Pull system you are reducing waste since you are building exactly what the customer needs and you are building things as the customer is requesting them. This JIT building also leads to less pain overtime because we are only building what we need and can focus on making our customers happier. This leads to less stress and overall we can improve over time without having to plan everything up front.

Solve Hard Problems

Being Customer First also means we will solve hard problems. The world is full of easy problems that need to be solved and those are great, but if we just solve the easy problems no one will be there to solve the hard problems. Being customer first means looking at problems from the point of view of the Barr problems customers want solved. There are a million people solving the easy problems. However, can you look at the customer and solve the hard problems?

A customer has hard problems. We have easy problems that we want the customer to have. However, if we listen to the customer and solve their hard problems, we’ll we should be able to solve the problems that matter.

It is ideal that you are the customer that has the problem but it should be that the problems that you want to solve shouldn’t be limited to you. What can you do that is bigger than yourself that isn’t limited to you? How can you bring this solution to other people? This is a big problem that needs to be really solved well.

Our customers are people who are doing good for the world and advancing humanity. We will help them advance their cause by being the shoulders on which they stand to make their Vision come true if it agrees with our Vision. Not everyone will benefit from our Vision and we cannot make everyone a customer so we must be okay with that.

Even if we don’t get a customer strive to ensure they are doing well. Help first! Make the human connection and understand them. Understand that the other person is a son or daughter of someone and that they have their own wants and needs. Try seeing from their point of view. Help first, before selling. Help first, before receiving anything in return. Make the other person happy and reduce their stress. Remember that is not the customer’s job to know, it is our job to teach them. We will teach the customer the right way to do things ad we will not be content if we find things that do not hold to our high standards of how things should be. We cannot move the world with fixing every single thing, but we must be willing to move and advance the good practices for the small part that we have control over if it helps the customer also advance.

Job to Be Done

Figure out the Job the Customer wants us to hire us for. Solve to do that job

Hacker

Build, Measure, Learn and Share

We seek openness as a First Principle. To make the world better we need people using powerful, open ideas and having those ideas made better over time. To unearth these ideas, we learn broadly things we do not understand and make unknowns, known by inventing new solutions. We will give away the knowledge of what we learn and apply what we learn into our tools and services. We will teach others what we have learned and help them succeed. We will not hoard knowledge but aspire to learn so we can share what we learn.

We do not aspire to have a monopoly on ideas, good ideas can come from anywhere, so we strengthen ideas regardless of where they come from. We will cooperate with others to improve their ideas if those ideas are better. We will learn using the paradigm of Learn, Do, Advance, Iterate. This paradigm’s emphasis is on solving problems from what is learned. We will learn something that requires the solving of a problem, we will solve the problem with what we learn, we advance by figuring out the next problem that we do not understand that needs to be solved, and finally we iterate to go back to learning to solve the next problem.

Good ideas are already shared freely in books and other media. We aspire to develop a broad understanding of humanity from understanding history, politics, war, economics, math, physics, biology, psychology, games, etc. We need to make wide and deep connections, and the best way to do that is to understand the world broadly. We must expand our horizon; we will connect dots from different fields and practice things that make us better in the long run. We learn to understand how to avoid pitfalls from the past. We read and learn how to do things from those who did things before us and use history and books as teachers and mentors. We must use the Past to Advance Humanity to the Future.

Learning and Applying our Learning means we will make mistakes. While are not afraid of making mistakes, we are not afraid of looking like fools, we are not afraid of taking crazy bets. We must figure out How We Learn and adapt. All learning must start small and focused and expand out so we can minimize the feedback loop. Do this by starting with that kernel that is solid and focused and expand out from there. We will fall down, make mistakes and may be wrong but we will get back up and learn from our impediments to become better. The biggest measure of our learning is how quickly we get back up against after falling from our mistakes. This, we will fail fast and fail often with the goal that each failure is a learning lesson that we use to improve ourselves.

Share knowledge and give away knowledge. Be proactive about sharing knowledge. We are here to Advance Humanity and that means we must make the knowledge we learn available to everyone. Others may use our knowledge and compete with us and that is perfectly fine. We want our knowledge to help better the world and that means having our ideas spread to everyone, everywhere.

Be Less Wrong, Build Mental Models

In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn noted that in science models are patched until there is no longer a way to modify the model anymore. Once there are too many exceptions to a model that model breaks down and a new model needs to be created to understand the world. This is called a Paradigm Shift. It is not only science that has these shifts society, culture and technology also go through these paradigm shifts. We must notice them to capitalize on them and that means creating Shared Mental Models of the world.

Shared Mental Models are a model for how we believe the world works which allows us to simplify communication as a team, understand the patches in that model, and figure out when that model is breaking down due to changes in technology. Shared mental models allow us to create scenarios and how we fit into that scenario allowing us to better understand how we need to maneuver. To understand and create mental models break things down using First Principle, and understand how each component of the model works and find bottlenecks, gatekeepers, and holes to capitalize on. Further, we must develop mental models to prevent us from gaining tunnel vision on what we are doing. For example, it can be hard to see what we are doing is entering a period of decline without figuring out the shifts in the model of the world.

Our mental models will be used to help test our hypothesis against the world and develop our capabilities to fit that model. Further, to enter new industries we need to first figure out the mental models of that industry. Once this is done we will develop the capabilities to enter that industry.

Don’t try to be right, be less wrong. Trying to be right all the time doesn’t work. Because it comes from a place of always knowing. This is just impossible for people since the world is complex and have so many variables that move it forward. However, the variables that allow you to be less wrong are pretty simple and apparently if you pay attention to them. If you can pay attention to the variables that prove you less wrong, and ignore the ones that push you to being right you benefit in two ways. 1) You learn to find where your faults are and address those faults in your thinking. 2) You don’t let ego get in the way of you trying making the approporaiate decision.

Truthseek

Be aware if you are following someone’s path or charting your own. It is easy to get stuck doing the same thing because someone else has. Many times there are good reasons for doing something a particular way, other times it makes no sense to do so. It may make sense to figure out if you can change this.

Savoie-faire

Know what to do in any situation. This means learning and understanding broadly even if you don’t have understanding on the specifics of what you are doing. We live in a world of hyperspecialization where people end up being obsoleted faster than they can adapt. There is value in being really good at something, but it also helps to know a bit about everything. It helps to learn disparate things because your mind can connect the dots from different ideas and that marriage is the new idea. Learn to become adept at multiple things.

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Keep things simple and composable. Build things that are hyper focused and extendable. This includes tools, businesses, products and services. Do not fall for Not Invented Here, it is better to use someone else’s 90% tool than to make our half-assed one unless there is a Competitive Advantage for us to do it differently. Build things that follow the 80/20 rule. Do not try to do everything for everyone. Aim for perfection, settle for good enough. Avoid complexity that can result in cascading failures because of heavy coupling of systems.

Solve problems by brute force first to make it work before making it pretty. Remember Copy-Paste, Excel and Bash are all effective tools. Solve the problem first fast, go back and make it pretty and scalable, but always remember to keep things simple. We solve problems to Advance Humanity not build tech for tech’s sake, so build tool that are composable with other tools.

Build simple solutions with the skills we have now, not skills that we can develop in the future, or skills that need to be heavily specialized. Create tools that empower people to come up to speed quickly.

Remember always: Complex Actions that do Complex Activities Fail in Complex Ways; Simple Actions that do Complex Activities Fail in Simple Ways. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Can you explain it to a 6th grader?

One of the major things to scale and growth is the ability to reduce variables. The more variables that are in a system the more it can fail in convoluted, complex ways. The fewer variables the simpler the failure and the easier it is to diagnose the failure. This is not to mean that complexity cannot arise. It just means that complex systems that have simpler subsystems scale better. Reduce variables until doing so makes things more complex. This will be hard because the natural outcome is to want to add variables add different vectors.

One of the hard parts of keeping things simple is the fact that we have to subdivide. Modern society is based on division and dividing, but sometimes you just need to release something and it is better to try it out within the confines of an existing brand than to start from scratch building a new brand.

Find the Root Cause and Reduce Waste (Muda)

It is really easy to live in the realm of the What. What and How give solutions to ready made problems but unfortunately they do not handle problems when you hit unknowns. When you hit anything unknown when you learned the What and How you are stuck because you haven’t dived deeper. Asking Why over and over until you have gotten to the root of a problem. From there work back up to answer the How. When you understand Why you can then think in terms of atoms and molecules. You can start making different permutations that we’re not available to you when you just we’re focused on the What and How.

Every field has a Why. The root that everything is based on. If you can find that Why and really understand it it lets you understand the root of what you are trying to accomplish.

Figure out how to reduce waste over time and increase quality. Increasing quality tends to reduce waste and cost over time as there are fewer defects in the service.

Show Me the Code

All things need code or routines that are followed to create a desired outcome. The reason for this is that when we have a program that we follow we can refactor it as opposed to working ad hoc. We will be able to ensure that we can move forward and still create the same outcome. Without code or a process definition we are each working independently without knowing if what we are doing is the most efficient way to go about our daily tasks.

So everything we do must be based on eventually process. What this means is if we do a task more than once as we do it it should get more and more defined or programetized. This means clearly having the tests and key metrics to ensure what we are doing is in fact helping us as opposed to hurting us.

Further, we should be able to split apart a routine whenever we need to and hire someone to do that routine as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Every routine like a good computer program should require fewer steps and cost less to accomplish the task.

Release Fast and Often

Reduce the batch size and deploy something that works to production and to the customer as fast as possible. The goal is to always have a stable way of releasing features to customers. Reducing the batch size or size of code being released will allow us to constantly improve the quality of the code and reduce the number of errors.

However, to achieve this we must always work to ensure everything we have in the master branch will be deployable and can be deployable and is tested. We must be willing to move fast and that is only done by having reliable tested code and processes.

The Network is the Computer”

Humanity is moving to ever connectedness. Everything that can get connected will get connected. The leads of this new world are those that can break and mold these networked systems together and wield them to their advantage.

As I write this the most important mechanism of power in the world is networks. We need to understand and exploit the network to ensure that we can attain our goals. This means we cannot be removed and fight a symmetric fight against an asymmetric node. We must fight asymmetrical and ensure that how we move the work forward is itself also decentralized as much as possible.

A network with the fewest nodes is easier to secure than one with thousands so ensure that each team can exploit the power of its network.

Having smaller systems make them more scalable as they are simpler and fewer people can have total knowledge over the entire system. This is true in computers as well as business. Small teams can achieve more faster because they can hold the entire product, sales and marketing strategy in their head. This is also how OpsZero will be organized.

We are building a Platform that allows us to create completely independent teams that work on verticals disconnected from each other but by building up a common infrastructure. This infrastructure will grow and evolve standardizing common tasks across teams while still enabling them to move independently.

This has a few benefits:

All of these are benefits. In essence we need to keep a firm simple. 8-10 people max per team and using freelancers to fill in any holes. A team can also jump off and work completely independent of our infrastructure if they want to.

Long-Term Thinking

It is really hard to think long term about things. In business, and life it is so easy to think short term. A single quarter, a year. It is easy to lose sight of the land we are trying to reach when we are trying to stay above the waves. Doing what we need to get there requires the discipline to live in that future and bring everyone to that world view. It requires being misunderstood for a long time until you can show the world what you mean. It is okay to make mistakes and take the wrong trails while we are getting to that goal.

To build the future we must think Long-Term. Everything we do must be steppingstones and we must think decades into the future and work backwards. We need to implement the projects and experiments that will lead to our Vision being fulfilled. To do this we must constantly ucourse correct, remove impediments in our way, and iterate and never be content with what we have. Always lay the seeds for tomorrow, but make sure the seeds you laid yesterday are bearing fruit and figure out why the ones that didn’t, didn’t. We need to simplify our Vision into smaller projects. Whether we tackle business or politics we need to stay below the waves thinking and working for the long-term while there maybe waves and storms above water.

And like a forest fire that clears out the underbrush so that the strong trees get more nutrients, we need to regularly clear out the underbrush to give more nutrients to our stronger trees. We will constantly evaluate what we are focused on and let loose those projects that may be better run independently, by others, or are no longer needed at all. We must learn to be objective and be okay with cutting ties with those things that don’t fulfill our Vision.

Life is evolution and we need to evolve with the tides. Our Vision requires a marathon not a sprint, we may win some and lose some but never lose sight of if we are winning the Infinite Game. We must improve 1% everyday with small constant changes, we must apply Creative Destruction to ourselves and our work, we must cast the first stone against ourselves and obsolete ourselves first. We must never be comfortable with what we have, it can all be ripped away, so we are constantly willing to sacrifice for better and always be willing to improve. We Must Evolve or Die.

Building for the Long-Term requires sacrifice and stamina and a fair bit of the Marshmallow Test. Not everything will be fun and to get to our Vision a lot of it is going to be shoveling shit. Things will be boring, monotonous and uninspiring but nothing great has been done in the world without hard work. It is important to get through things and resist changing things drastically when boredom sets. We need to find ways to chip away at the same thing over and over and get to where we need to go while addressing the monotony. For us to do this, we need to create routines, processes and automations that we will use to get us through things when things get tedious.

Consider the externalities when making decisions and performing action. We cannot stop ourselves from creating negative externalities, but we must seek for those short term pains to create long-term gains to Advance Humanity. Figure out how to reduce the negative externality and seek to remove it quickly.

We need to move at a steady measured pace while preventing burnout. We will implement work processes such as Scrum and Kanban to work at a measured pace with continuous improvement to create change. We will do Agile right not as a measure of people, but as a measure of the tasks that need to be done. Think Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Our goal as a company is to reduce dopamine and cortisol and increase serotonin and oxytocin. No, we aren’t going to drug people. Dopamine and cortisol are products of short-term thinking, the highs of big risky wins, and the lows of heavy stress. Sure, they are exciting, but they are not good ways to build a long-term sustainable business. So our company in a sense has to be boring, it has to focus on long-term sustainable growth not huge risky spikes that may not last. We will optimize for serotonin and oxytocin; both are long-term thinking chemicals that the brain secretes for the wellness of the individual. We optimize for these.

Consider value over cost. If the value you are receiving is higher than the cost of using it or if it will lead to greater profit then that is value

There are no easy hacks in life work smart and work hard.

The Infinite Game

We need to play the Infinite Game not the Finite Game. Growth for its own sake, moonshots, and other ideas are completely useless unless we believe them to Advance Humanity for the better. Every move we make we must consider not the money as the key result but how we will move Humanity to New Heights. We must advance the game from a different form of accounting which is how many potential people can we help with every move we make? How can we Deploy Ideas Faster? How can we democratize new technology? How can we help more people?

Disruption, or Disruptive Innovations, for disruption’s sake doesn’t matter. We have to be that a company has to lose for us to win. We can all grow the pie together. Disruption only considers breaking but it does not consider the creation.

 organization is here to provide value to the world, society and the people it takes care of. It is not to optimize profits for the shareholders. Our paradigm is to say that Milton Friedman is the cause of the ills of society that we are now facing. Short term thinking and optimizing shareholder value has ruined the earth and we must put an end to the baloney of his theories. We will not optimize for shareholder value, we will optimize for humanity and taking care of our people. We will not optimize for short term profits instead we will look to create long term value for society and as a side effect make money.

Antifragile

“If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball” -Dodgeball, A True Underdog Story

We must thrive in chaos and uncertainty. The only thing we are certain of is change, change breeds opportunities and we must learn to capitalize on those opportunities. We must build the company to be Anti-Fragile. It needs to survive whether things are going well, or things are going poorly in the world. We need to think hard about how we do things and always prepare for the worst. Chaos should not kill us; chaos empowers and emboldens us. We are masters of Chaos and use it for our benefit. Remember Sun Tzu, “Lure with bait, strike with chaos.” To achieve success in chaos we must kill things that don’t provide value. Don’t keep something to turn the wheels we must be nimble and be able to turn on a dime.

We do not strive for high risk, we take calculated bets that help us advance our game, playing at tables that give us a clear advantage. Attacking a large defense is pointless and wastes resources, find the weakness in the defenses and take aim there. This means 1% everyday will lead to revolutionary changes overtime. But we must start with First Principle to figure out where we even start playing. Figure out the game where the rules are in your favor, this is the First Principle decision. Figure out the 1-2 things that will give you 80% of the benefit and move to address that leading you to become the big fish in the small pond, expand from there.

Don’t be constrained by societal norms. Society and Culture are hackable, and we need to understand the Power Structures that are in play and how they advantage or disadvantage us. If we understand the Power Structures, we can Define the Rules of the Game or Play a Game where we always have an advantage.

If direct competition against them is impossible then change tables, so that you play has the advantage. To build a world where we fill our Vision of “Ideas Deployed Faster to Advance Humanity”, we must break and remold the old rules to favor us. We dance to our own tune, however, to do so we need to be disciplined. We must have self-mastery to make the rules for others and we must always consider the moral and ethical questions over the rules we change. The rules we change must be better for the world over the long run even if short term it is painful, and we must be disciplined to weather the short term ramifications.

Processes & Systems

We need to achieve operational excellence in everything we do. This means we need to figure out our success and mistakes and fix them. However, quality is in conflict with innovation so we must be somewhere in between Chaos and Process.

Fail Fast, Learn From Your Mistakes

We do not celebrate our mistakes but we seek to understand where we made mistakes in the first place.

In Behavioral Economics we are more prone to feeling pains from losses than equal amounts of gains. This is called Loss Aversion. This fear of losses makes us blind to when things are not working and killing something. We need to test our experiments completely but experiments can go wrong so learn to kill things when they don’t work. However, don’t celebrate when things fail. Failure is a means to understand, celebrating it is the wrong incentive since we are celebrating the failure instead of the ability to learn. Fail fast, learn fast.

Thrift

Make money run a long way. The best way to do this is to understand why you are doing something and what it will return and itmeans having financial intelligence to do the tasks necessary to get to our mission while figuring out where you are not going to be spending money.

Reinvest & Reinvent

If evolution is the name of the game then capital is food for growth.

To Advance Humanity we cannot be sitting around accumulating cash. We need to put 90% of our Cash Flow into Growth. We will optimize for having high amounts of cash flow so we can use it to Reinvest and Reinvent ourselves. It is by making a lot of small bets in many opportunities that we can figure out what the best way to get to our Vision. We will not always be right, but we can make the many bets to get to the right path. To do this we need to ensure all bets we take have a profitable end goal and that we think through how we are going to win when we take those bets.

Once we make a bet we will use Porter’s Competitive Strategy and Deming’s Continuous Improvement to evolve and optimize. We must understand a bet’s long-term outcome and that. Further, we need to understand that any bet we take may change overtime and that means weWe need to be able to step away if things are not working after a sufficient time period. We must not fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy.

Don’t be afraid to kill the Goose that once laid the Golden Egg. Eventually, it will die, or a competitor will commoditize it. We need to learn to kill ourselves to reinvent ourselves. Reinvent when  something is broken or declining in function.Further, if something is broken fix it! If something is subpar, fix it! Every team needs to own what they have and make it better constantly. Sometimes the short-term investment in changing a standard can be painful, but the long-term benefit of reinventing can  even if the short-term benefits are painful but the long-term benefits are immense.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to Kill the Goose that lays the Golden Egg.

Operational Excellence

Grow without making the mistakes of the past. Growing while making former mistakes is a good way to fail from the pressure of failing to address past mistakes. Build and run things and ensure that they run the same tomorrow, by ensuring that we have a solid infrastructure that we build everything upon.

Operational Excellence means stability but it does not mean stagnation it means building on layers and building on a set of primitives each piece doing its part and doing it well such that the entirety can grow. It means constantly improving our performance and delivery cadence such that we delight our customers with how reliable and good we are.

Develop Infrastructure and Platforms

Everything we do is infrastructure and platforms. People will build off what we do. We must ensure that we support these things that are built by ensuring stability for those that build off us. Ensure that we can run things if possible forever and constantly improve those things as well so if we have customers we can maintain them. If we can’t we must try the best to migrate them to the new technology.

Continuous Improvement and Learning

Always seek to learn and do better. Figure out how to improve and get better constantly.

Quality

The only way to reduce cost is to focus on quality rahtner than on cost. By improving quality and standardizing we reduce the chance of error. By constantly improving we can make things better overtime reducing our overhead. Furthermore, to make

Curate

Learn to curate. There are things which are commodities and there are things which have high value. The goal is to focus on the high value tasks where you can have a genuine advantage. Everything else don’t do or do it as a hobby not as a business. The primary goal of a business is to say no to a 99 things and focus on the 1 thing that gives a genuine advantage.

Figure out your strengths and weaknesses and really focus on your strengths. Externalize you weaknesses to those whose strengths are your weakness.

People, Ideas, Technology. In That Order

People are at the center of our purpose and principles. To achieve our Vision, we must surround ourselves with people who we can challenge and motivate, and who do the same for us.People areour most valuable asset. Technology and Ideas may change but we need a solid group of people who are constantly evolving and growing while getting shit done. We understand that not everyone will be around forever so we must prepare them to tackle our Vision wherever they choose to go. We must ensure that they grow into the role they want, stay long term in the role they are comfortable with, or become entrepreneurs in their own right and help advance them whatever path they choose to take and provide the incentives to succeed.

Good Ideas and Technologies are the results of Good People. Good ideas need to be shown merit and advanced while undergoing vigorous debate. We are here to Advance Humanity and “Ideas Deployed Faster” means always being on the forefront, building the future and making that future the present.

People

People make up an Organization, a Organization is an Imagined Community. People make up our Organization, an Imagined Community of People, provide value to another Organization, another Imagined Community of People. At the end it is People helping People. We must ensure that people are taken care, have safety, and trust whomever and whatever Imagined Community they are a part.

We will fall on the sword for our people and that means we need to ensure that the people we bring on are the people who will fall on the sword for us. We will not hire fast, fire fast. We will take our time to find good people who fit with our Principles first. People can learn new skills, but it is extremely hard to orient people with varying Principles. So we will optimize for Principles. We will need to find people with the appropriate Position, Responsibilities and Expectations. We cannot just hire based on skills since it will means that if the person cannot change their skills based on the changing circumstances we have people who many not be beneficial to our organization.

We will define Position for people and provide them with the Responsibilities they need to succeed and give them the power to make decisions and act within their realm. Every person has a set of responsibilities that they will be expected to handle and if failure happens they are responsible for. Lastly, every position has expectations of value generated. Every person needs to create value for the organization but they need to be sufficiently challenged to self-improve as well. We will develop people’s positions overtime to increase their responsibilities and expectations. The expectations will be measurable goals for each person.

We value those who serve and empower others before themselves. We value those who dedicate themselves to ensure that others are happy and cared. We want people who will not put themselves about the needs of their team. It is better to climb the highest mountain and bring others so we can all enjoy the view together than to climb up alone.

We will ensure that our People are Happy, Healthy and Productive in that order. Unhappy and Unhealthy people don’t lead to productive work nor are they fun to be around. Ensuring the team is happy and healthy is the first priority. We will practice healthy habits as part of our work including deep interruption-free work, exercise, and time for play. We must create an environment that is safe and where we can be vulnerable to one another. The leadership will speak truth and make themselves human, not all-knowing demi-gods by expressing their weaknesses to the team. We are all learning, and we don’t know everything, so we will create a space where we can all learn, express our mistakes and constantly review how to improve from each other and grow with a Growth Mindset

We must create a place of diversity as diversity creates an atmosphere of critical thinking. Diversity paradoxically creates mistrust, but this mistrust leads to harder questions and deeper critical thinking since we must explain to others our thinking when they don’t think like us. This prevents thinking from becoming pigeonholed and this leads to the uniqueness of and depth in ideas to gestate and flourish. This means listening to ideas different from us even if those ideas aren’t consistent with our views. We need to have a healthy dialogue where we can look at things from different points of view. If we virtue signal or use cancel someone because we don’t agree with them that means we are not seeking to find why they think like they do, and finding constructive ways of reaching agreement or disagreeing on that aspect but working together in other parts that you do agree.

We must hire people better than us. We hire people who are better because they will tell us what we need to do that we didn’t consider. By hiring people better than us we are hiring teachers and mentors that complement our weaknesses, who can also teach others. A place where we can’t learn is a place where evolution stops, and when evolution stops is a place that dies. We must hire others who are better even if it makes us feel inadequate and strive to learn their lessons. Further, by hiring people who are smarter we will put them onto projects where we can maximize their strengths. Not everyone is made for every position, they may work better in other aspects and we need to figure out how to put them in those positions.

We cannot expect another person to improve without giving them the feedback they need to improve, so we will give feedback about the work with candor. We cannot assume the person knows where to go if we don’t give them the feedback to get there. This does not mean micromanaging it means coaching them on their journey not taking them to the destination. This feedback should be used to improve oneself. However, before we give critical feedback strive to understand where people are first coming from and find common ground. Whether our team, customers, partners or vendors look for common ground and create trust and security. Seek to help and understand first before casting judgement. To make it easier to work together we must express our vulnerabilities and weaknesses to each other. We are good at some things and need work on others, but it is hard to change those if we don’t inform others that we need to change those. Be vulnerable, state when you don’t know something and strive to improve.

Being people oriented does not mean lowering standards. It means having Extremely High Standards. We always ask, “How can we improve?” We should ask this to our Team, Customers, Society and Investors. We must always be taking feedback and creating the ideas and improvements to address our weaknesses and make them into strengths. It is everyone’s responsibility to help improve the team. Politicking will not be tolerated, if something is wrong or not living up to high standards it needs to be relayed to the person (in private). This does not mean personal attacks but guiding the other person into doing better. It is the responsibility of the person receiving the feedback, to take the feedback and incorporate it into their Individual Mental Model and understand where the feedback is coming from. If we need help request it without holding an ego.

We are a people-first company where we put the needs of people first. However, we must also acknowledge we can’t help everyone. Not everyone is going to like us, accept it. No use trying to move a mountain, when we can push a sled instead. We will strive to help improve both the strengths and weaknesses of an individual.

Each Position need to know their Role and Responsibilities. What is their expected role, what are the KPIs that they are responsible for optimizing. The entire goal of each person should be to optimize certain tasks for growth and overtime improve the KPIs. Each KPI needs to improve the metric of the Parent task.

Our team will be evaluated on how well they follow these Principles. A weekly 1:1 should be had with the manager and team member with the following questions:

Before the 1:1 there should be the following document sent:

After the 1:1 there should be a document tracking what you talked about and the commitments.

Further, we need to understand Organization Psychology and figure out how to make each of our team members happy, healthy and productive. We must implement and reinforce the behaviors that make people happy while not overindulging. People don’t always need perks to be happy, they need purpose. We must ensure that everyone’s Maslow Hierarchy of Needs are met and that they are able to achieve their Self-Realization. We must allow this to happen whether they are our team, our crowd or our customers. We must ensure that we can address as much of the Hierarchy as possible.

Image result for maslow hierarchy of needs

We will organize into self-contained, autonomous, cross-divisional, functional teams that fit the “Two Pizza Box” principle. The teams act independently and autonomously to progress towards our Vision with whatever Idea they are executing. These small units (6-7 people) ensures communication is clear and ensures everyone on the team is responsible for each other while fulling the Key Performace Indicators that work towards the company’s Vision. Each team needs a clear leader and division of responsibilities, and reports to up the chain to another “Two Pizza Box” team. Each team needs to fulfill the following: Repeatability, Focus, and Iteration. Overtime, a team may break up to fulfill these criteria.

The leader and manager’s role are to sacrifice self for the betterment of the team. It is the leader and manager’s job to empower those closest to the information to make the call and trust that they will make the right call. To do this we must constantly better our team and prepare to be Anti-Fragile. Further, each team will develop its own set of Principles over time and it is important that they do so that build off the Principles we have here. It is important to encourage them.

A leader is a good follower. We will bring on the best people so that we can follow what they tell us to do. This means the weakest need to have their voice heard. Have people who are more junior, more quiet speak first before moving to others.

Give and Take

Should give some and receive some.

Ideas

Ideas are cheap. Execution matters. Ideas we have must be tested quickly and cheaply. This is to prevent bike shedding. We can spend endless time to figure out if an idea is good or not but at the end all people care about is seeing the idea in reality and being able to see it. So we need to ensure our ideas are not just ideas but that good ones quickly see the light of day. We need to encourage new innovation even if we are just bringing ideas into the market to create competition.

Since we create a place of vulnerability, trust and safety where we will not punish for mistakes we will expect there to be some Good Conflict where ideas are debated vigorously. People need to speak with candor about problems, commit and be accountable for fixing things. People should speak freely without fear of interpersonal conflict if they are debating ideas, and let people know where they are coming from. We need diversity of ideas, but we also have to be free to say that the emperor has no clothes while focus our execution on the ideas that are critical to our Vision. It is just as important to say no to things as to say yes. We must deploy ideas that help the most amount of people and for which we have expertise in. The success of our ideas is not in how much money they make but how many people they can potentially help.

We need to generate a lot of ideas and execute based on Critical Thinking and Creative Destruction. To do this we need to consider the Industry, Opportunity and Competitive moves that are happening and respond to them. We need to think of completely new Blue Ocean ideas that lets us own a market where we define the rules. We cannot execute on everything though, but we must do the research on the ideas anyways, so we understand our weaknesses comparatively. We should execute in adjacent markets to where we are already executing and keep doing this ad infinitum. Not everything we do will be successful, and some of our bets may fail spectacularly, but we must understand and internalize our learnings into our Shared Mental Models so we can adapt.

Every idea we decide to compete in needs to be able to stand on its own. It cannot rely on eternal or subsidized funding; it needs to be able to stand and earn profits on its own. There is nothing worse than throwing money at a problem that never has a way of recouping its investment. We need to ensure that our bets have a chance of being self-sustaining and earning a profit quickly.

We work on ideas by first writing a Two to Six Page Narrative on the Idea. The following needs to be answered:

  1. Explain what you are doing in 75 characters or less.
  2. Start with a Story of a single person using this idea and how they benefit. Why would they would choose this idea over something else?
  3. What is the idea? What are the products & services we will need to provide? What is the value being generated? Who will be empowered by this idea? How are we vastly better than the competition in relation to this idea and are not limited by the 5 Competitive Forces?
  4. How are we going to approach the task of bringing the idea to the world?
  5. How is the idea the same or different from other companies who do this? How can they retaliate?
  6. How does the idea fulfill our Vision?
  7. Why are we the ones who need to bring this idea to light? What do we have that makes us valuable to release this?
  8. What are the positions and procedures we need to do to be effective? Who are the partners we can work with? How can we use the Crowd?
  9. What is the high-level Assembly Line?
  10. If applicable a blog post/press release introducing the idea. Describe the Microcommit, the smallest feature set needed to test this idea. Who, What, Where, When, Why, How.
  11. How is this idea Anti-Fragile? What are the risks? What are the failure? What can go wrong? What are the assumptions that may prove to be incorrect?
  12. What is the game theory and prisoner’s dilemma in the market? How will our competitors respond?
  13. What happens if this completely and utterly fails? What are the repercussions?
  14. What are the KPIs that need to be tracked?
  1. How will it make money?
  2. How does this match with our competitive strategy? What competitive stage is the market? What is the industry analysis?
  3. What is the First Principle breakdown of the idea? What are all the components that make it up? What is changing about each of the components in relation to time?

This document must be updated with Feedback, Research and Clarity. After it is written it needs to be debated. The team will debate the efficacy of this narrative where they will look for the Strategy, Falsification, and 80/20. The goal of the debate is to figure out what is wrong, what the holes in the logic are, and if something is missing. Falsify it to verify that it is something that needs to done by us versus letting other people do it. Figure out if we can do it simply by using the 80/20 rule. If all is well then it should be executed if not then then the Narrative needs to be rewritten to address the concerns or if the idea is shown to not fulfill the Vision then it will be shelved.

We do this because ideas are cheap so good ideas must be strengthened with hard critical thinking, learning, data and experimentation. We must commit to ideas slowly but once we commit, we must execute rapidly. Ideas can include anything that improves the running of the organization including product and services, the customer experience, processes, mistakes, etc. When executing an idea always start with a small strong core and put it in front of the people using it. Iterate to regularly release new updates to this core. Further, we won’t agree with all the ideas and some ideas may be crazy to us but we all come from a different understanding of the world and so we need to Disagree and Commit if the time comes for moving forward. We are not afraid to cannibalize if it means taking us to our Vision.

 

What we do will undergo change and obsolescence and that means embracing Creative Destruction. While we can improve existing businesses with Continuous Improvement, we need to also find ways of killing ourselves with new technology, processes, etc. Never hold anything we do sacred if there is a better way of doing something that reduces waste and increases output. There are no sacred cows and we acknowledge the only constant we will hold true is evolution. We must collect all our Ideas in a centralized location and have them be shared. Whether the ideas are good or not is not important. Maybe an idea is not good at the moment but it is great in the future, we need to have these ideas available for others to reflect on in the future.

Ideas will also be executed from our mistakes. We will not seek to punish mistakes if they were not intentionally done but will use them as learning opportunities. How did the mistake occur? What can be done to address the mistake so it doesn’t happen again? What is the root cause of the mistake that led to it happening? All of these must be handled completely.

Disagree and Commit

When an idea is presented not everyone will agree to execute it. It is easy to become a gatekeeper and say and idea is stupid. It is better to Disagree to an idea and Commit to it. This allows for the idea to be tested and tried on its merit. We may personally disagree with an idea or have anecdotes, hearsay, or are personally not interested in the problem. However, this does not mean it doesn’t have value so it is better to disagree with an idea, but also commit to it if the majority are in agreement to move forward with it. However, ensure that others can see from your point of view as well so they understand where you are coming from.

Via Negativa

All ideas must start as a Microcommit. It is the smallest working solution to the problem which we can use to test our idea. Unless we need to build something, try to do it with the smallest amount of effort and input serving the smallest amount of customers. We need to work like an Inductive Proof. Make it work for x=1, before making it work for x=n. Further, execute ideas in the industries we are participating in already and enter adjacent industries where we see a Competitive Advantage. We cannot just address all markets at once as it leads to poor execution and a diffusion of resources. This diffusion leads to not executing anything well.

Note when something is an experiment versus when it is scaling. The methodologies of both are different. An experiment is trying to prove something and it is like an inductive proof of n=1. Scaling is when what you prove is used for n=k. We are trying to make it applicable across the board.

Make things simple as possible, remove unnecessary steps, remove unneeded interactions, and increase the possibility. Do things by removing and simplifying to the core values that are high not doing everything. All microcommits are the smallest number of steps needed to do something.

Critical Thinking

Use writing to think deeply and express and complete thoughts in complete sentences. Writing is thinking and to be effective at what we do and plan for the long-term and evolve as we go along we need to think clearly and deeply. Writing will be used across all aspects of the business as the preferred medium of expression. Ideas will be thought through deeply, mistakes and root cause analysis will be dissected in paragraphs, and we will always be writing to clarify our thoughts.

Strive first to think through in writing what you are going to do before you do it. This clarifies the intent and purpose of your actions which are more important than doing the actions. The intent must be communicated as that is the purpose of any action, there is an underlying intent behind it. This clarifies the purpose for those below you and above you “Why” you are doing something. The How and What will evolve but the communication of the Why is always paramount.

Further, when generating Projects from Reviews, Retrospectives and Mistakes really find the root cause of a problem. We must get to the core of the problem and fix it at the root otherwise the problem just arises again.

Feymann Analysis

For ideas to matter they must be understood simply. We are living in a world of complexity where complexity is done for complexity sake. We must understand and spread ideas as simply as possible. Use the Feynman technique.

Ideas. Work on things that are difficult and create value.

Change Your Mind

When you tell someone that their idea is wrong, even if they know rationally that it is wrong they will disagree and believe in their idea much stronger. It is easy to fall into this trap where our ideas become our existential outlook. However, our ideas are beliefs can change. If you find an idea that has proven to be wrong you want to stop. Hold your ideas and beliefs loosly. If you are proven wrong or there is evidence supporting the other side then stop.

This means looking at things from opposite perspectives. You can’t only look at ideas from your side only. You have to look at things from the opposite point of view. You have to wonder why the other side believes something and why they hold onto that belief. Sometimes it is not obvious. It may be something completely different than you assumed.

Process

|chaos------------|-------|efficiency

There needs to be median for innovation when it comes to process. We can’t be 100% efficient we need time to be creative and have ways about thinking in problems in new ways. If we are 100% efficient we stagnate with any new ideas. This can’t happen in an innovative company.

Innovation needs a bit of chaos. It doesn’t grow by having complete order, but it doesn’t work completely in total chaos either. Innovation needs to fulfill a need and the wat to have that is to be somewhere in the realm of chaos and efficiency. We need slack in the system to come up with new ideas.

Technology

Is It Worth the Time?

Figure 1 https://xkcd.com/1205/ Figure out if something is worth coding based on this.

“A fool learns by experience. I profit from others’ experience.” -Bismark

We will take new technology and find where the puck is going and hyperstandardize and bring down the cost of its delivery. Further, we must figure out how to apply technology to reduce the steps in any system. Complexity makes things brittle, something with a lot of pieces can fail in complex ways, but something with simple pieces makes it easier to build and scale. If we can figure out how to reduce costs, by removing pieces from what people are doing that would allow us to scale our tasks and make technology work for us. If on the other hand we integrate a technology and it adds additional steps then that is less valuable.

We are the operational team that makes the technology usable for other companies.

Technology is only as useful as it benefits People. However, we must stay attuned to the changing nature of technology and use the technology that will enable us to solve the problems for humanity, better and faster. However, if we prioritize the technology over the people we will be stuck with obsolete people. We must pick people who can evolve with the ideas and technology.

We will be conservative when picking technology unless it gives us a clear Competitive Advantage to use it immediately, otherwise we will let it gestate and mature for a period to mature. It may not always be certain who is winning a battle so it is better to wait until there is a winner then to move quickly to use that technology completely. This means we may not pick the technology as it is ascending, but this also means we pick the technology that is largely winning and technology that has a lot of the warts fixed before we use it. Once this has happened we can trust the longevity of the technology we will embrace it fully. If we see a paradigm shift towards a new technology over the Long-Term then we must start testing that technology immediately and playing with it internally before we move forward with it.

Further, when creating scripts and other tools prioritize simplicity. Frequently this may mean using bash, Ruby and Excel. If we can get stuff done quickly doing that then do that. We must experiment with new technology in a small way to to see where the world is moving and get a better understanding of where the market is heading. We need to understand the technology and shifts in the market even if we do not actively incorporate the technology within our stack. However, what we put into production and the services we choose to work on need to have longevity.

When picking technology use the criteria of has it been in production for a couple years, does it have more than one or two major users, has it matured to the point where there are one or two ways of doing things, does it have a lot of operational complexity that is not a core advantage? We may need to at times bet on the future of a technology even if it is immature at present, this could be because of the behavior of a major vendor so we should plan backwards to when we can fully embrace the technology and what needs to be done to get to the point of full adoption.

Prioritize using off the shelf tooling, open source, etc. first and make it work for our needs. If things don’t exist that fit our use we will develop internally. But we will not fall for Not Invented Here Syndrome. Further, if there is a vendor that benefits us then we will use them and build our own if the benefit changes. We will use external tools if the benefit is immediate. We will create internally if the cost benefit changes.

We are not going to reinvent technology over and over unless there is a clear Competitive Advantage to doing so. We need to push forward with what we have and make it work and change things once they no longer work. Constantly changing the technology stack for the sake of technology change is a waste of time and does not create value. Technology should always be picked and adopted based on the notion of how does it affect People, does it better them?

If data and the narrative don’t match up don’t assume that the narrative is wrong. People are complex and no machine can tell is what beauty is, or justice or morality is. Thus far. So it is important when the data doesn’t match up to understand the behavior. Do not fall for the Ludic Fallacy.

We must take new technology that has crossed the chasm that can advance humanity significantly and apply it to the world and bring down the cost as much as possible as fast as possible that others can use it. We must take all technologies that can bring ideas to market faster and make them applicable to everyone. We cannot jump on every bandwagon so we must figure out if a technology has crossed the chasm before using it. Future use technology that is widely used and has more than one vendor supporting it.

OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act)

Speed is everything. We need to respond to changing circumstances much faster then our competitors and ensure we can react to the changing marketplace. We need to have shared goals that will allow us to engage with our competition faster than they can react. Using the OODA loop we can take stock of everything that is happening and really execute quickly. To do so we need to work as a unit and that means to figure out what the holes are and then rapidly move forward.

John Boyd’s OODA Loop shows us how to execute at a high tempo to respond to changing circumstances and getting inside our Customers, Partners and Competitions decision making process. We will get within the Loop of our Customers to delight them, get within the Loop of our Partners to be ready to support them, and inside our Competitors to disorient and surpass them. All actions within the Organization will follow the OODA Loop and everything we do will need to undergo at a variable tempo that confuses and confounds the respond. This is how we make our Organization to Learn and Adapt Quickly.

The beauty of the OODA Loop is that it is effective for any Decision Making situation in life. If we consider that life is a 4D game, our 3d body and our progress through time we can consider that each iteration of the game creates a new outcome. Each game we choose to play has its own set of OODA that is independent from other situations. We need to be aware of each situation and the different OODAs we can do based on those situations. For example, how we OODA through software development is much different from how we OODA through Jiu-Jitsu. Each has a set of rules that are in play. Each has an objective, has a set of mental models that are most pertinent to that situation and criteria for winning. We need to understand these and figure out how to attain those while also changing the rules that people have to follow our rules.

An OODA has to vary its Tempo and Speed while executing rapidly. We need to be able to make decisions quickly and understand that errors will be made. The major point of the OODA is to prevent Loss Aversion and advance our position. The Loss Aversion is prevented because we are always advancing backed on our Observation of if we are doing better toward our goal or not. So we need to be aware that we need to move forward.

Speed matters. If you are slow to execute then you will fail. Sometimes it makes sense to go slow, but other times speed just needs to be speed. We need to execute fast at a 80-90% throughput on average.

The OODA also needs to behave a certain way.

Observe

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

We must collect all data points including Mistakes, Ideas, Stupid Ideas, Crazy Ideas, Small Changes, Big Changes, Customer Metrics, Customer Segments, Team Concerns, Customer Feedback, Impediments, Reviews, Team Feedback, 1:1 Feedback, Retrospectives, Competitive Landscape, Strategic Landscape, Economic Landscape, Political Landscape, Global Landscape, A/B Tests, Sales Prospects, Marketing Data, Process Constraints, Industry Analysis, Process Improvement, Competitive Strategy, Potential Future Failures, Failure of the 80/20 Rule, Weaknesses and Other Signals.

Further, all of these are important but the most important criteria are what are the rules of the game and what is my position relative to my opponent? What are my weaknesses that my opponent can take advantage of to prevent me from succeeding?

We will use this information as tactical knowledge and to build and improve our Mental Models of the world including where we are in Time-Space in relation to the observations we see. All this information will need to be gathered into a system and we must create new types of observations that we may not have considered. All of these Observations need to be processed regularly so we can Orient our execution.

Everyone must collect Observations. If you don’t see anything that needs improving then use the Theory of Constraints, find the slowest process point in the execution and create an observation around that. Then go to the next slowest, etc. An observation is short bursts of information this means that it needs to be gathered quickly and with Who, What, Where, Why, and How it affects the Vision.

Further, Observe also sets up ourselves relative to our goal. What is our current position relative to the outcome we want? What is success relative to what we have? What is our current state? These are important to constantly ask oneself in everything. If we don’t know what the state of the world is we cannot understand how to make the changes to get to where we want to go. So Observation needs to happen at a broad level to understand all the moving pieces that exist and figure out what you don’t know.

When you are Observing you will need to work backwards to also understand that that there are unknown, unknowns. This is to say there is information that you are not gathering because you don’t know to gather it. This is the

Report feedback frequently

We also need to invert. What is it we want to achieve. How can we work backwards.

Success

Learn from Success

Survivorship Bias

Loss Aversion

Failure

Learn from failure.

Orient

Orientation should look at all the Observations through the lens of our Vision. We cannot and must not act on all of the Observations because it will create a whiplash effect if we use tactical information to change strategy. However, Orientation is the most critical part of what we do because there will be a million things we will uncover as part of the Observations that we need to synthesize into what we work on. This synthesis will happen in a few forms it will affect our Business Model Canvas and lead to the creation of Ideas through Projects and Experiments that address the Observations. We need to do this while holding true to our Vision and Principles otherwise we will drastically change directions which isn’t useful.

Orientation means we need to constantly simplify our Business Model and Projects, we need to review our decisions, and ensure people are informed so they understand the changing circumstances. Orient to outmaneuver our competition but ensure that winning means we are staying true to our Vision. If something is a good idea but it does not fulfill our Vision, don’t pursue it.

Orient tasks will need to be designed over time and there needs to be Projects designed with the goal of attaining a certain goal. These are done throughout the week to design the needs of the organization. Everyone should spend 1 Hour a day working on defining the projects, not doing them but thinking through completely a project and how it benefits the company. Go to the Idea section on what to do with this, but it is important to spend time really defining the project before doing it as it will create time to really understand what the project is trying to achieve.

Decide

All decisions should come down to the question: “Will this help or eventually help Deploy Ideas Faster to Advance Humanity?” This question should be picking projects, picking customers, picking tools and anything. If the answer is “no” then the answer is don’t do it. Decisions will have criteria based on Objectives and Key Results, Projects and Stories, and Sprints.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are how we will set Quarterly and Yearly Goals for the organization. The reason for quarterly and yearly is because they are long enough duration that we can work on hard things. Every quarter, the organization will decide the corporate OKRs and these will trickle down into individual team OKRs. These are the singular goals that the entire Organization should work around.

Projects should fulfill these OKRs. The Objective should be a clear goal for where we are going that can be subdivided across teams. There should be clear measurable Key Results that can be calculated at any given moment. The Objectives and Key Results are there to aim the entire organization in the same direction. We need to get to a 75% score on the OKRs or higher every quarter and if not, we need to review if the goals we are striving for are relevant in the first place.

When making decisions make sure we are Inchworming. Ensure that our decisions are also working on our weaknesses as much as our strengths. This will reduce the range of our weakness to strength and ensures that our strengths are getting stronger, and our weaknesses become less weak. Projects should address both the strengths and the weaknesses. Further, the Value through our Products and Society will Inchworm Humanity.Inchworms can blend into their habitat thanks to their colorization and shape.

Focus on the 80/20 rule when making Decisions. Figure out the 20% that gives 80% of the value while increasing positive leverage towards our Vision. Chasing too many small fish will lead us astray from our Vision so it is important to focus on the 80/20 Principle. Simplify decisions to their essence, a hard decision is a series of small decisions. Attempting a hard-complex idea first is usually a waste of time, so start with a small kernel that is solid that you can iterate on. We need to decide Via Negativa, cutting anything from a decision that does not immediately need to be addressed. Work hard to remove things, not everything is a priority that you think it is. Make sure that the decisions are focused and that decisions are not bet the company decisions. Most organizations and teams can provide one or two products and services really well, focus and improve on those.

Even with all the Observations and Orientation we need to make decisions and we need to usually make decisions with 70-80% of the information. Making decisions with more than this amount of information will lead to slow execution. Sometimes we will be wrong, but it is important to make a calculated gamble with the information we have, not spend time and energy gathering more information that may not change out gamble.

Most importantly write out the steps you are going to take to address the decision. Writing out a process before execution leads us to make better decisions over time since it forces us to think through the outcomes and ensure that we understand how to doing things systematically. Writing is the measure twice, cut once method for knowledge work in the long run it saves time.

A/B Test things where there are no clear winner. It makes sense to test decisions in the wild if those decisions aren’t one way.

Invert. Look at things from the outside in. What is the smallest set of steps. Use Occam’s Razor to figure out which one will get to the outcome the quickest.

Do we need to do anything? As if we need to make a decision in the first place. Sometimes if something is bad just make it the exception to the rule. If the sample size increases then implement the rule.

Inversion

Before starting a project imagine you finished it. What can go wrong? Figure out all the points where things can go wrong and figure out how to fix those points.

Every idea needs a Premortum or a naysayer. Someone who takes the opposite point of view of bringing an idea. We need someone on a team that needs to take the contrarian view who can say how something can go wrong. If we are only looking at how an idea or decision is going to succeed we may be blind to the opposite of how a company can fail. This failure to see from the point of how we will fail will mean we are blind to a whole set of things that we will have to figure out or have not considered.

Looking at the inverse and really thinking about it from an inverse point of view will lead us to see things much more clearly in terms of what we need to do. For example, we do a project for a customer. What are all the ways the project can be delayed, how can it fail, how can it

Two Way Door vs One Way Door

Decisions are hard because we like to think most decisions are One Way Door decisions. One Way Door decisions are bet the farm kinds of decisions. They are the decisions that you need to think really clearly, hard and with great consideration of the inputs. They should really be very few and far between kinds of decisions. These decisions are not to be taken lightly and you want to think hard about them.

However, most decisions aren’t One Way Door decisions. They are Two Way Door. It is like trying to find a bar to go to on a Friday in a city you’ve never been to. You make the decision quickly, you are outside, people look friendly, you have some of the information about what you need to go in and you go in and it is a total ghost town. Was it a wrong decision? You had 70% of the input and you made a decision and find out it was bad. If a ghost town was not what you were looking for you would exit the bar and go try another one in the neighborhood. It makes no sense to keep staying at the bar.

Most decisions Perfect is the enemy of the good

Go with imperfect information. We will never be able to cover everything in a decision but we should be able to move forward.

Act

If you had a sound decision and the result is not what you expected don’t blame the decision of what you knew about the decision was sound when you made it. It it wasn’t then update your model to improve the decision. If a decision didn’t work out don’t fall for hindsight bias. 

If you had a sound decision and the result is not what you expected don’t blame the decision of what you knew about the decision was sound when you made it. It it wasn’t then update your model to improve the decision. If a decision didn’t work out don’t fall for hindsight bias.

Action is two fold. Action for now and action for the future. Both are important. Action on now is performing the duties and necessities of the present as it related to our customers, partners, etc. Action for the future is creating a set of improvement with projects and experiments that leads to a better outcome in the future.

Action now means creating Standard Operating Procedures and Automations. Thus, you just follow the procedure when performing it and not have to think too much about it. Tasks that are acted on for now should have clear outcomes and step by step actions. If an action is no longer fulfilling its role or the performance is no longer beneficial it should stop being done. Automations mean there should be ways of automating the repetitive jobs over time. Action for now should take precedence over acting for the future, but we need to not stall for the future. However, if we are always acting on now we won’t be evolving which means long-term failure so work hard to strike a balance between the two.

Acting for the future is working on Projects and Stories that lead to our Vision. Act Fast once a Decision is made. Ensure things work first even if they do not scale and build a working solid core. Iterate to the desired outcome. Reduce variability and act on fewer high leverage activities. Bias toward simplicity and repeatability.

To ensure that hard things are done we need to have a daily Deep Work time of 60-90 minutes without distraction where the hard projects are addressed. This time should be held sacred and it is time without chat, email, or other distractions to focus deeply on a problem. While we peform our action anything that is a mistake, potential improvement, etc. needs to be created as an Observation.

We need to focus on Process Engineering and Process Excellence. Standardize and make repeatable any process that needs to be done more than once. This process should be improved overtime with a checklist. The processes should be reduce to their absolute essence and give people the ability to break the rules if it doesn’t fit with the paradigm or if there is a better way to do something. We need to ensure that every time we do something that the process gets more and more efficient. Cut the number of steps needed to achieve something over time.

Gamify

Poker is an amazing game because every decision you make you have a bet that goes with it. The more you believe you have an advantage against your player the more risk you can take while assuming you have a high reward. Will you succeed all the time? No, but there is a value you placed on a decision.

Gamification of tasks whether by adding a monetary value to decisions drives better decisions. Asking someone to bet or out a value on their decision forces them to think harder than asking them is this worth doing? Asking someone to stake certain amount of money into something forces a skin in the game decision on the outcome and also allows us to gauge what the hand we are playing actually is.

Bets are also a way to hold ourselves accountable and a way to short circuit the ability to get things done. Understand Game Theory and figure out what the optimal play is and create situations where we are forcing the hand.

We get shit done. When we say we are going to do something we do it otherwise we don’t make that commitment. We need to be brutally honest with our time commitment and understand when and how we can get tasks done and how we are going to be able to bring those things to the world. Choosing how to allocate time though can be tricky. So often we get pulled in multiple directions. It may be personal excitement, professional aspiration, social obligation, stubborn resolution, or any combination thereof. Name your justification for committing to a task, and it applies to how our time gets divided up and ultimately we become less efficient.Additionally, we create the possibility of cognitive dissonance when we aren’t brutally honest with ourselves. We all know the feeling of that project that keeps getting put on the back burner, that section of a task we either can’t work through or don’t spend the time working through. Sometimes this may apply to every task which makes up our job. This is often a sign that we’re simply not doing something we find meaningful, something which is rewarding for us. Yet we may continue to try and get it done with the idea that it will improve our personal, professional, or social situation; all the while getting it done makes us feel like shit. When we choose to get the shit done that fits with the principles discussed here, that has meaning externally and then empowers internally, then the passion will follow naturally.

We delivery results

We take ideas from the opposing side

Challenge yourself. Go after bigger and bigger challenges. Do it while holding onto the values we have.

Do fewer things and find ways to remove tasks from your plate not add more. These tasks should be higher in value and make things easier for everyone.

Moral Risk Taking

When you are playing a multi iteration Game we need to understand how we are responding to our competitors. It may be easy to get into a short term game that is morally bad when we should be focused on the long term game.

Some Plays are Made to Show Your Opponents Plays

Some plays you will lose and you should do it intentionally to show your opponents play. From here you can understand how to mode forward and play effectively if you make small plays where you most likely will lose but force their hand.

Sheepdog

Be a Quiet Leader. We do not aspire for anything more than the betterment of humanity. We do the work and protect those within our Realm of Influence. We work on hard problems because they are more meaningful than easy problems. We don’t aspire for glory, but we want meaningful lives. We do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard. We take care of others, even if we must sacrifice in the process.

Self-Mastery

Every Person should attain Self-Mastery. The Spartans had their flaws but within their group they held to high standards, every citizen was considered an equal to the other including the King, everyone went through the same training including women, everyone lead an austere life, and they had a great wit. When it came to performance they performed as one unit.

Our highest ideal is the Advancement of Humanity. Everything we do must be for this cause. We are trying to make humanity better and if that means in the short term humanity hates us, or rebels against us, hold true if you think in the long-term it is actually in its benefit.

We will learn to be masters of ourselves, we will take care of our health, our family and friends, and our community. To do that we must practice high control over ourselves, our behaviors, our actions. We must learn to live fulfilling lives past our work and learn to work together with others. We must hold ourselves to Extremely High Standards and understand that we won’t get there on Day 1 but will work day by day to get there.

We will take Feedback and Reflect on ourselves. We need to understand where we are where we are in the journey and where we need to go. This means we need to reflect and think deeply about our own lives frequently.

Living by these Principles will be hard. It maybe easier to not follow them and take the shortcut. It maybe easier to put people second, it maybe easier to think short-term and it maybe better to think profit before customer. If we sell out our values we are just following the waves of the ocean. For what we are doing we need to hold these principles true.

Don’t sit by the sidelines expecting to gain the upside without doing work, and don’t expect someone else to take the fall of the downside. Have Skin in the Game and acknowledge that the ups and down are as much yours as anyone else. When taking action fear is natural. If we didn’t have fear we wouldn’t be here, it allowed outs species to survive. Our amygdala, reptile brain, is a powerful part of who we are. It pushes us to a Fight or Flight response and pushes us away from danger. So when you want to act and have fear of action because of the fear of failure, reprimand, etc. know that it is normal. However, fear is a product of the unknown. If we make the unknown, known we lessen our fear and the best way to do what we do is to push past the fear. We need to action despite our fears in the moment. To work during times of volatility and fear we must stay calm, we must stay mindful of our Vision, and we must act with force.

Explain Why

The goal of a Sheepdog is to explain Why to others. We crave meaning behind the actions that we undertake and that means explaining everything we have.

Ownership, Have Skin in the Game

“Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.” -Plutarch

We have Skin in the Game. We take the upside and we take the downside of our actions. We do not blame others if we screw up. We put ourselves out there even if it frightens us and even if it makes us look like fools. We need to play the Infinite Game and that means looking like fools in the moment so we can go to where we want to. We work as a team so we take care of each other but we must acknowledge that.

We drive Ownership of what we have influence over even if no one tells us to. We will be proactive instead of reactive.

Be able to move forward even when you are scared.

If something is wrong speak up.

Constantinople fell because someone left the gate open. Don’t be the person who left it open speak up if something is off or you don’t believe. Get to the bottom of the reason we should be moving a certain way.

Don’t believe that the world will be made for you. If you don’t take action no one else will. It is better to do the tasks to change the world to your liking than to complain that the world is unfair. You have to take the action to move the world. You can’t assume that the world will be made for you. Take ownership to make the world you want.

Oneness, Team as One

Our behavior should be toward the betterment of our Team and the attainment of our Vision. As a team we need to not overindulge, we do more with less, we get our hands dirty no matter whom, we do not do complex things for which we do not understand the second and third order effects, we do not become spend-thrifts, and we do not flaunt what we have. As individuals we hold ourselves to high standards, we aspire to learn more, we take care our minds and bodies, and we take care of our friends, family and community. We must master all aspects of life and aspire higher.

We need to hold each other to high standards. We need to ensure that the cause we fight for is not limited by the low standards of the group. If we are not living to our full potential we are wasting our lives. We will strive to be experts in that we choose to act, but always with high standards.

Memento Mori: Embrace Humility

We must practice humility and austerity. We must have self-control and think really hard before spending a lot of money. We must work to do more with less and always be humbled with what we have. Never believe that we deserve something, always believe that anything we do can be ripped away at any moment. Understand, that that the mindful journey that we are undertaking is much more important than the destination. Enjoy the journey, help others enjoy the journey, enjoy the struggle through the journey. Remember we are all Sisyphus pushing that rock up the mountain, work really hard to push that rock up because at the end of the day it is the struggle that we undertook that makes us better.

The only way you can know how to live is to know how you wish to die. Remember and consider it frequently. What is it that you wish you will have done? What is it that you want as a fulfilling life? What do you wish you are doing less? All of these play into what you will do. You need to know how you want to die so you know what is truly important. We are all given finite time to live and it is important to consider and really focus on how we will use that time. This means we need to consider opportunity costs. What does the end Vision look like and what is the next high value opportunity you are skipping by doing the task at hand. Think also in terms of second and third order effects.

Time is ever fleeting, and we must manage it like the most important resource it is. We must strive everyday to find two hours of Deep Uninterrupted Work, to move the puck forward. We must use this time wisely to get the hard things done and protect this time. This is what will enable us to progress toward our Vision. We want to reduce context switching, and we want to reduce interruptions. Context switching and multi-tasking creates more waste and loss of time than single-minded focus on a single task. We must do this from the individual level to the company wide OKRs. We must have a single clear goal at a time and everything and everyone must contribute to this single goal. We must strive hard to reduce variability, and push everyone to use their time towards the one goal and aiming in the same direction.

Have Fun, Laugh

Life is too short to be serious. So have fun. Laugh a lot and don’t take yourself too seriously. We are all making it up as we go along and none of what we do really matters. The only thing that matters is helping other people and being happy and being content while achieving that. Also don’t forget to laugh.  

By not taking yourself so seriously you make it easier for yourself to grow

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The ultimate goal is to increase the world’s knowledge.

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