A Practical Notebook

My notes are messy and unorganized. Some may receive further thought in the form of an essay. Original thoughts may not be cited, but then again, we all stand on the shoulder of giants [*].


6. The Path of Least Resistance, Conservation of Energy, and Entropy

The Path of Least Resistance. The path of least resistance -- and all related principles -- suggests that things (animals, human behavior, information, particles) will naturally choose the path of least effort.

Conservation of Energy. In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system in a given frame of reference remains constant. In other words, this law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another.

Entropy. Like mentioned in Note #4 regarding the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: High entropy implies a low potential for doing work, a low capacity for taking action or a high degree of confusion and disorder. From this law it follows that entropy must increase in any closed system.

Synthesis: Taken together, these three notions support the idea that all things, unless experiencing consistent positive hormetic stress, appear to be constant in any moment but are actually degrading.

Follow-ups: Ideologies exists because it is easier to confirm our own points of view than to question our assumptions • If our orientation becomes isolated from the outside world, we experience mismatch from reality. • The only alternative to overcoming laziness is disciplined approach to experiencing hormetic stressors • The only alternative to overcoming mismatches between mental images and reality is through deductive deduction and rebuilding mental images to correspond to the new realities.

5. Curiosity, Networking Ideas, and Creating Tools

[Prerequisites: Read Notes #4 and #3)

You want to learn about as many things that interest you as possible to create a network of ideas. If you take a single lesson to build a model, everything will look like a hammer.

You want the ability to discern certain principles around you. If you do not, then either your brain shuts down because you are not prepared for it or you try to force your model onto the world. If you know how things work, and you know the objective, you can create the tool.

Follow-ups: Consistent pattern-matching leads to costly mistakes • In conflict, the side unable to act -- or experiencing no fluidity of action -- experiences uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, fear, panic, and chaos, eventually folding back on themselves so that they cannot cope with the events and efforts of reality.

4. Gödel, Heisenberg, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Gödel’s Proof. Indirectly shows that in order to determine the consistency of any new system we must construct or uncover another system beyond it. Any model of reality is incomplete and must be continuously refined/adapted in the face of new observations.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. The more precision we demand in one area, the more uncertainty we experience in another. The more we become entwined with observed reality the more uncertainty increases. As we design new things and we introduce them into the environment, unexpected things start to happen.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. High entropy implies a low potential for doing work, a low capacity for taking action or a high degree of confusion and disorder. Low entropy implies just the opposite. From this law it follows that entropy must increase in any closed system. Individuals or organizations that do not communicate with the outside world by getting new information about the environment or creating new mental models act like a closed system, experiencing entropy or disorder.

Synthesis. Taken together, these three notions support the idea that any inward-oriented and continued effort to improve the match concept with observed reality will only increase the degree of mismatch.

Follow-ups: Racial and ethnic diversity in an organization experiences entropy just as racial and ethnic homogeneity • Personal libraries experience entropy.

3. Blitzkrieg, Agility, and Culture

The Blitzkrieg was successful because it used time as its principle strategic device: It emphasized implicit over explicit to gain a favorable mismatch in friction and time (ours lower than any adversary) for superiority in shaping and adapting to circumstances (customers, market, competition).

Shaping and adapting to circumstances requires agility. In agile groups, action flows smoothly from orientation, without an intervening (and delaying) decision step. This requires a climate advantageous for groups of people to work together in a confusing and sometimes threatening environment.

  • Fingerspitzengefuhl. Intuitive feel, especially for complex and potentially chaotic situations.
  • Einheit. Mutual trust, unity, and cohesion.
  • Schwerpunkt. Any concept that provides focus and direction to the operation.
  • Auftragstaktik. Mission, generally considered as a contract between superior and subordinate.

Groups and organizations who employ these principles of the Blitzkrieg will become superior in shaping and adapting to circumstances (customers, market, competition). Without these principles in place, groups will experience unfavorable mismatches in friction and time (ours higher than any adversary).

Follow-ups: Most workplace problems can be solved if good communication norms and flows are in place • The breakdown of mutual trust leads to the breakdown of organizations • Asking for permission is a form of friction.

2. War, Humanity, and Business

War is a human endeavor.

It is a clash of wills carried out among populations for some purpose towards some objective. It is not a mechanical process that can be controlled by technology, laws, and statistics. It is not carried out in carefully controlled environments. It is not predictable.

Business, like war, is a human endeavor.

Follow-ups: Lifting concepts from war and applying them business is not straightforward.

1. Crashes, Market Corrections, and Intervention

Crashes and market corrections significantly improve the signal/noise ratio in a space. Letting the marketplace speak brings about a natural equilibrium. When this happens more bad concepts rightfully die than good concepts wrongfully die.

However, intervention causes the opposite. In tightly controlled markets, bad concepts proliferate. Good concepts die because they are artificially unable to support the organic, bottom-up nature of the free markets. In other words, intervention fragilizes the entire system and forces out what works.

When this happens, the risk is not the crash itself since it improves the signal/noise ratio. The risk it is that good concepts are forgotten and need to be re-discovered.

[*] The Generators

I hope to make this notebook organic, reflecting upon topics I personally witnessed or developed independently. In doing so, my purpose is to not regurgitate existing ideas, but to build upon them through a process of destruction and creation. All things considered, the master fitness function of this notebook is to cultivate intellectual insecurity, acknowledging my lack of knowledge and dealing with my ignorance.