Don’t predict the rain – have the wedding inside
Google is good at predicting the weather for the next hour.
It is ok at predicting the weather for the next eight hours.
It is touch-and-go when it comes to predicting tomorrow’s weather.
Google sucks at predicting the weather one week from now.
Simple, Complicated, Complex
A wheel is a simple system. Infants know how a wheel works.
Planes are complicated systems. Few of us know the ins and outs of how planes work, but each subsystem of the plane is simple, like the wheel. The complicated system is just a whole heap of simple systems stitched together.
But they are knowable.
The weather is a complex, if not completely dynamic system. We have a grasp of the forces that determine weather, but it can’t be predicted reliably. This is because there are so many interconnected and interacting factors, so much so that we can’t compute the algorithm.
All people are complex systems. That means that teams (interacting people) are even more complex as systems. Marriages are complex systems, and businesses are also complex systems.
What do do about it.
It’s June in Sydney. You’re having your wedding in October, and thinking of having it outdoors. In Sydney, this is Spring time.
Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it doesn’t.
No matter what you try, no matter how many ‘experts’ you consult, you will not be able to predict the weather in October. You won’t know if it’s raining.
Don’t try to predict the unpredictable.
You can justify your prediction about October’s weather all you like. The reality is, you can’t know for sure whether it will rain or not. This mistake is what ‘experts’ do all the time. It is often said that the domain of experts is limited to complicated systems.
Complex systems are too dynamic for any single person to comprehend or master.
Complex systems are dominated by the wise, the philosophical and the investors. These are the masters of systems thinking. Experts, on the other hand, often find themselves more disadvantaged than newbies and noobs in the complex.
Their prior knowledge works against them. Henri Poincare for example never agreed with Albert Einstein on special relativity — even though Einstein used a lot of Poincare’s concepts to arrive at the theory.
Poincare, the French mathematician, is believed to have clung to the old, the boxes of thinking that he’d grown accustomed to. The boxes he couldn’t see without. Investors on the other hand, good ones at least, have strong opinions loosely held. The boxes or their ideas have dotted lines.
Investors and Systems Thinkers
Here’s the good news — you don’t need to be incredibly ‘smart’ or academic. As an investor, you just need to understand these things:
- Odds (Upside vs. Downside, Reward vs. Risk)
- Asymmetric bets (high upside, low downside)
- Your own biases and shortcomings (self-awareness)
- How little you know
- What you can control
- The game you’re in, and how to figure out its rules quickly.
- Without-The-Box Thinking doesn’t hurt.
In other words, the one thing you know for sure is that an indoor wedding removes the weather problem. It reduces your exposure (risk) to the complex system (weather).
Don’t predict the rain — have the wedding inside.