Smile Orthodontics, Survivorship Bias, The Artificial Intelligence Leader, David Attenborough & Resilience
11th October 2020 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” Charlie Munger
Hope you’re Thriving!
In the gardening world, for many plants, when the soil temperature exceeds 16 degrees Celsius it’s a trigger for plants that spring has arrived and the plants will rapidly start growing – and in Perth spring has certainly arrived, the plants are thriving!
This week I watched the new movie from David Attenborough: ‘A Life On Our Planet’ which you can watch either on Netflix or at the movies depending on where you live, and as Forbes describes it as The Most Important Documentary Of The Year with which I’d have to agree, it’s a dedication to his lifelong work and how the world has changed along the way.
It’s unlike any of his other work and is a testament to the unique person he is. Overall, I’d describe it as moving, and it really made me think about survival and the future.
Speaking of survival, in 1916 entrepreneur John Brodie was successful in producing his first major order for his new patented helmet with 1 million being issued to troops on the western front. Made from pressed steel, the helmet’s “soup bowl” shape was designed to protect the wearer’s head and shoulders from shrapnel shell projectiles bursting from above the trenches. Yet shortly after its introduction, the military command was seriously considering withdrawing the helmet as there were reports of a dramatic rise in field hospital admissions for severe head injury victims. It was only when a statistician looked at the issue from a different perspective and remarked that those newly injured were likely previously killed by the same type of injury did the military leadership understand the actual success of the new helmet.
In World War II, the US Military conducted research into the damage their planes were receiving and concluded that in order to minimize bomber losses due to enemy fire the areas that were most hit required additional armour – see the plane image below. Yet in complete contradiction, Abraham Wald from the Statistical Research Group at Columbia University examined the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions and recommended adding armour to the areas that showed the least damage.
Wald noted that the military only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions; any bombers that had been shot down or otherwise lost had logically also been rendered unavailable for assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Thus, Wald proposed that the Navy reinforce areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost.
No, you haven’t accidentally subscribed to the gardening and history newsletter! Bear with me!
We can only work with the data that we have, along with what the data isn’t telling us, and that data may be inaccurate due to survivorship bias as were the two examples above. It was only people’s ability to think creatively and analytically that led to both these discoveries.
As leaders and entrepreneurs, one of the great threats we face today is artificial intelligence (AI) and if we are going to survive and thrive in our businesses, in the way David Attenborough describes it’s valuable to consider the way that Brodie and Wald used their human abilities to uncover the real problem, and we must unlock more of these abilities.
The Artificial Intelligence leader
So, a robot takes the job of a supermarket checkout operator, or a robot now packs boxes in a factory one might think. Big deal.
Artificial Intelligence is growing at an exponential rate, but leaders are only growing at a linear rate – for more info check out this short article Exponential Growth vs Linear Thinking in management teams.
Why is it a threat? Today according to University of Albany psychologist Gary Yukl, AI can perform nearly all the basic functions of leaders, with a few caveats and exceptions. See his framework in the image below.
This is not in the distant future, this is today.
In the past week, for the weekly podcast I record with Kevin we decided to start providing a transcript of the show notes for those who prefer not to listen but want to read. That’s coming out from next week onwards, but we assessed human transcription and AI, and AI was significantly more accurate the first time, plus, the service we’re using Otter, learns our Canadian and Australian accents and our speaking quirks each time it’s manually corrected on the website.
Our leaders need to view AI as a partner, AI will give us the right information to help us make the right decisions, to use our human abilities more. Rather than thinking about how AI or robots could save money – cutting costs or wages, what if we thought instead about effectiveness? If you think about your organisation, how can AI make you and your team more effective?
Here’s an interesting article I found this week which talks about how robots are rapidly learning how to become better bosses. The Algorithm in the Corner Office
Why Resilience Matters
We live in an unpredictable and challenging world, and AI is only one of the challenges we face.
Of course, the key to surviving and thriving is resilience. To be able to withstand the challenges (like adapting to AI) and advance forward.
Yet resilience can deplete.
When Sarah Bond and Gillian Shapiro asked 835 executives about what drains their resilience at work, 75% said that the biggest drain on their resilience was “managing difficult people or office politics at work.”
This is from the interesting HBR article What Resilience Means, and Why It Matters where 90% also said that their reserves of resilience came “from myself”, rather than relationships, work or the organisation.
Remember what Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.
The question that’s on my mind, of course, is that this is yet another point in the damage that culture does when not built and managed appropriately, and how much are these cultures developed and maintained through onboarding?
Quite a bit I’m finding.
Making the most of masks
When it comes to thinking outside the box, to think creatively, for the field of orthodontists, perhaps there aren’t that many opportunities. Braces hurt, and many people are embarrassed by the need to wear them.
For Dr. Joshua Knowles of Smile at the World Orthodontics from Temple, Texas he thought that the mask-wearing requirements due to the pandemic were a great opportunity to think creatively and turn that embarrassing issue into an opportunity. I love the simple and creative call to action on his billboard!
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
On episode 26 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
How do you know your Core Values are right?
This week on The Growth Whisperers Brad and Kevin discuss how to gain confidence that your Core Values are correct. What are the Core Values tests you can use to ensure your Core Values are authentic, and not simply aspirational?
They talk about stories from companies where Core Values have failed and where Core Values have been successful and provide specific questions to help you validate whether your Core Values are correct.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
From the vault
Differentiating activities – Jiffy Lube example
Founded in 1972 Jiffy Lube is a franchised drive-through oil change shop that changes your oil & filters, tops up your other oils and vacuums your car’s interior in less than 10 minutes and without an appointment. Unlike other motor mechanics and vehicle repair shops, Jiffy Lube is only focussed on fast oil changes at a low price and doesn’t claim to repair all problems with your car. However, the items they do work on, they claim to know very well, use quality materials and provide a low price.
In particular, Jiffy Lube has 3 main differentiating activities;
- Only provides lubrication services – not other car repair services
- Retail high traffic locations – not industrial estates
- 10-minute turnaround no appointments required
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