Tag Archives: Change

The obvious characteristics of a new setting

This post is valid for people entering many different forms of new settings. Examples include starting to work at a new company, embarking on a new relationship, and living in a new country.

When you first enter a new setting, you do so with a fresh pair of eyes. You’re able to clearly see the things that make the setting valuable as well as the things that could be done differently.

As time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to see these once obvious characteristics. The reason is that, since you’ve decided to stay in the setting, you’ve effectively accepted to live with the characteristics. Staying while continuing to question the characteristics would create cognitive dissonance. So you stop questioning in order to set aside this uncomfortable cognitive dissonance.

However, the characteristics endure. As a result, if you identified them correctly, they eventually manifest themselves in the setting’s outcomes. When this happens, you can tell yourself that you knew it all along. While this may be true, this is of little consequence if you weren’t able to positively influence the outcome.

There are two takeaways from this reasoning.

The first is that the first few days or weeks that you spend in a new setting are a unique opportunity to take note of the strengths and improvement areas of the setting. This needs to be a written note rather than a mental note because your memory is likely to forget the latter in order to eliminate cognitive dissonance.

This leads to the second takeaway. Together with taking these notes, you should appreciate those characteristics that make the setting valuable while doing your best to try to change the other characteristics of the setting in a way that improves the setting’s outcomes. The latter requires patience as you need to gain credibility in the new setting, as well as the friendship and trust of the people who can help you make the necessary changes, before you can change things.

Marc Andreessen on change, organizational constraints, and creativity

I recently watched a November 2016 interview which Marc Andreessen took part in at Stanford.

The interview features several insights so I encourage you to watch the full piece 55 minute piece. Here are my most important takeaways:

  1. Entrepreneurs have a bias towards action and frequent decision-making while investors have a bias towards thinking and selective decision-making.
  2. You need to take into account organizational constraints when attempting to apply theoretical strategy in practice.
  3. When trying to solve tough problems, it’s useful to think about how someone working in the problem’s domain for whom you have a lot of respect would approach the problem.

You can watch the full interview below.

Dialogue, or not?

Many tech leaders have voiced their concern over US President Trump’s travel ban on citizens of 7 predominantly Muslim countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

However, some of these leaders, like Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick, are also on President Trump’s Economic Advisory Council. And as a result of this position, there have been calls for them to demonstrate their concern by not only voicing it but also leaving the Economic Advisory Council. So far, Kalanick has left and Musk remains on the council.

Faced with such a situation, what’s the right thing to do?

I think that, as things stand, the right thing to do is to remain on the council. Specifically, you need to remember why you joined the council in the first place. It wasn’t because you agreed with everything that Trump said during the campaign period. It was because Trump won the presidency and the council gives you an opportunity to advise him on the issues that matter to you while also giving you a platform to hopefully change his views and actions in areas of disagreement.

Leaving the council makes you lose the opportunity for dialogue that is necessary for the positive change you seek to achieve. And, as things stand, I believe that there’s still room for dialogue.