Please help stop my brain behaving like a plastic toy!

Postby academic » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:52 am

Do you have goals? Have you made promises to achieve those goals? That promise might be a book, a qualification, a weight loss, a DIY project. How many of those promises have you not finished over the years?

According to Business Insider, 80% of New Year resolutions fail by February! Too many of my promises have turned to failure, or remain half-finished.

I would like to share my personal observation on this. Year after year, I find it difficult to remain focussed on the promise, and It is not as simple as saying that any one promise was a simple case of biting off more than I could chew.

Rather, it appears my failure lies in the expectation that I will succeed in re-appropriating an identified 2 hours after work, or many more on the weekends. By my own estimation those hours should be appropriable because in the status quo those hours are used for various low-speed and low-priority tasks: such as skimming industry news, phoning family, cooking, cleaning, checking personal finances, filling in shopping carts, attending haircut appointment, etc.

When I tell myself to do something more valuable, such as finish a dream Goldman Sachs-beating trading algorithm, my brain can start on-topic and then too quickly meanders back to the low-priority muddle of distractions that it is accustomed to dealing with.

This is my observation: I start working on the task as planned.. and I blink, take a breather, sip some coffee, look at the time.. and maybe I will continue with that dream task... or maybe (in a moment of weakness) I will actually forget that my immediate task is not the status quo!

It seems to me that the wiring in our brains can conveniently adapt to address any topic, and then (very inconveniently) reverts back to a status quo. While this may help provide us with a consistent personality, it may also be holding us back when we try to better ourselves.

My brain behaves like a plastic toy! It bends to my will when I focus, and then returns to the unwanted shape when I relax. That means new promised goals need twice as much effort as planned (the first effort is to focus on doing it; the second effort is doing it).

How can we give our toy plastic brains the tunnel vision super-power they need to deliver on our lofty promises?
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#1

Postby academic » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:44 pm

(It looks like we have caught me talking to myself)

It turns out that my self-perceived observation matches the normal physiological function of a brain, and it has been observed in neuroscience also; look for a paper titled "Controllability of structural brain networks".

Evidence suggests the unwanted shape of neural pathways in our brains will recur. Psychologists have named this feature of the brain the Default Mode Network, and the DMN temporarily deactivates when we start to focus on difficult tasks. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to stop the DMN from taking back control.

However, if we know in advance when the DMN will re-assert itself, then we can schedule a recharge to match that time. The trouble is, I suspect, that our physiologies are not reliable or consistent enough for us to derive the answer that we should be taking a 15 minute break every 90 minutes. I will do some more reading.

In the meantime.. while on your break, would you prefer to recharge with music, a good laugh, or sugary donut?
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#2

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:54 pm

academic wrote:When I tell myself to do something more valuable, such as finish a dream Goldman Sachs-beating trading algorithm, my brain can start on-topic and then too quickly meanders back to the low-priority muddle of distractions that it is accustomed to dealing with.

How can we give our toy plastic brains the tunnel vision super-power they need to deliver on our lofty promises?


This sounds more like an issue of process and the structure of your goals.

What are the steps required to create a Goldman Sachs-beating trade algorithm?

Using an analogy might help. You have a dream to reach the top of a mountain. You have a vision. In this vision you are standing at the top looking off in the distance as the sun comes up. You can see a river in the middle of a valley as clouds drift along.

Now, the above vision will never be a strict reality. You don’t actually know what the top of the mountain will look like as you have never literally been to the top. Your vision is a mental simulation of what you think it should look like or what you hope it will look like as a rough estimate. It is an expectation.

What is your Goldman-Sachs vision? After tons of programming, back testing, etc., you finally have done it. You click the button, the algorithm begins to hum and you watch the money begin to build in your portfolio. This is my mental simulation. Am I far off? Is this close to what you envision?

Back to our mountain. The vision grabs us, it motivates us. We desire to make this vision into reality so we decide to set a formal goal to climb the mountain.

How? What is the structure of a formal goal? How would you appropriately structure a goal to climb a mountain to help improve your chances of success? How about the structure of a Goldman Sachs algorithm?

They will both follow the same formula.

Assessment
The first step is determining the gap. How far are you away from the mountain? Are you in good enough shape? What resources will be required? When is the best time to climb? What skills are needed? This is a “gap analysis”, where you are assessing the gap, you are determining the distance between where you are currently and the top of the mountain.

For a Goldman-Sachs algorithm what is required? Do you have the programming skills? Have you ever created an automated trading program? What is the current gap?

Planning
Based on the gap you create a plan to climb the mountain. You don’t climb a mountain all at once, but in phases or legs. You establish waypoints or milestones. You create a to-do-list or action plan.

Roughly, to climb a mountain, you might have a plan that it will take 4 days to climb the mountain and 2 days to return, but there are some tasks you need to achieve prior. So you establish a timeline, starting the journey up to the top 7 days prior. It is a total of 13 days. On day 1 you buy supplies, day 2 you begin travel to the base of the mountain, day 7 you spend at the base organizing, day 8 you begin the hike.

It need not be a goal that is so strictly managed that you account for each day, but what is important is that you have a good idea of the milestones required. At a minimum you must have the next one or two milestones in mind.

For a Goldman Sachs algorithm what are the next one or two milestones?

Execution
This is the last part of the process and it is the most difficult part for most people. Having failed to properly plan, they are not certain of the next milestone they need to achieve. They have gathered up some supplies, but they sit there looking up at the mountain. They keep their head in the clouds, thinking of their vision, but are unable to focus. They lack clarity so they drift off into other tasks.

The person with a clear idea of the next milestone stops thinking about the top of the mountain. They get their head out of the clouds and begin to focus intensely on just climbing the next leg of the journey. They put aside the thoughts of possible failure of never getting to the top. They forget about the past and they commit 100% of their mental resources into just enjoying the current leg of the journey, the current milestone they need to accomplish.

After a day of hiking they allow themselves to relax. This takes us back to Assessment. They set up a campfire and spend some time in the evening once again looking up at the clouds and the top of the mountain. They reflect and adjust the plan. How was the hike today? Did they make the progress expected, might they wish to adjust their goal, what did they learn about climbing mountains? Maybe they decide it will take an extra day, or maybe it turns out they should aim for a slightly different mountain top. They decide what they need to execute tomorrow. And maybe...just maybe they learn that mountain climbing is not the goal for them. Learning what goals not to pursue is also a good learning experience.

For a Goldman-Sachs algorithm, what is the next milestone you need to execute? Can you stop thinking about the dream and focus intensely on just the next leg of the journey?

APE is a decision model you can use to help structure your goals, going through the cyclical process of assess, plan, and execute.
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#3

Postby academic » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:13 pm

Hi Richard.

Thank you for engaging!

I may have steered you into the weeds. The intended topic is improving our ability to focus on the tasks we have immediately set for ourselves.

Thank you for raising the point about following a methodology. None of my personal projects are out of step with my existing qualifications or existing experience. The Goldman-Sachs beating algorithm might (or might not) be a metaphor. I personally use PDCA cycles with milestone goals along the way.
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#4

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:37 pm

PDCA is a nice option. The question then becomes, if a person is using PDCA cycles effectively, why would they lack focus? Used correctly, a person should be highly focused and be capable of maintaining that focus for extended periods of time, correct?

In other words, with the intended topic of “improving our ability to focus,” at least one point of leverage to explore is refining the process rather than the potential side effects, e.g. neuroplasticity.

Certainly it can be fun to discuss multiple ways to improve focus. There are any number of evidence based approaches, such as the Zeigarnik effect, delay of gratification, scaffolding, ego depletion, etc. There is an entire line of research on “self-regulation” that is fascinating.

Regardless, and this is just my observations over the last few decades, the tips, techniques, and tricks to improve focus are most often short lived, because PDCA is not being used correctly. Most often people are losing focus, not because they have not tried the Pomodoro technique or syncing activity with 90 minute sleep/wake cycles, but because they fundamentally have a broken process.
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#5

Postby quietvoice » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:34 pm

Perhaps, it is nothing more than that you've not built in enough desire to keep up with the intense focus you'll need to complete the intended project. This may be a "high priority" work in your head, or for your ego, but your heart is feeling otherwise. Delay getting started on the actual work until you get your heart and your head into the same space for this project.

Meditate on all of the good feelings, all of the emotions, you experience from the completion of this project. Bring the completion into present time AS IF this project is complete and the benefits of such are there RIGHT NOW. BE the completed project, or the person who completed the project. Then, you'll keep at it because you'll be inspired to keep at it; nothing will keep you down.
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#6

Postby academic » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:35 pm

These are good points.

In my projects, I think general fatigue and delivery stress elevate where there are external frustrations that force mundane repetitions. For example, I started writing a video game for iOS/Android and the iOS version was coming along nicely in simulators.

I wanted to load it to a device, and there is $99 royalty due to Apple for the privilege of testing ($1 or $999 releases the same emotion here). So it's less emotional to test (release, market, everything) on Android first, which means I have to re-click here and there join the dots all over again. So I stop for a cup for tea, because that is relaxing, and then risk going to work tomorrow with my personal hardware test pushed back to next week.

But next week I am sitting an exam, so it will be pushed back again.. and I think there is a bigger exam toward the end of the month.. so my simple 'one step hardware test' is pushed back to February.

Oh, focus!!
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#7

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:45 pm

academic wrote: In my projects, I think general fatigue and delivery stress elevate where there are external frustrations that force mundane repetitions.


In an efficient PDCA cycle there would be no general fatigue or deliver stress, right? There would be no external frustrations.

How many PDCA cycles do you complete on a daily basis without even realizing it? You have routines that you run very efficiently, so efficiently that you don’t even notice.

Where delivery stress or external frustrations generally originate is from a less than ideal plan. This is not necessarily a planning error, but it most often ends up being the case. There is a cognitive bias called the planning fallacy which has shown repeatedly that it is very normal to underestimate the time required or resources needed to complete a goal. It is one reason that cost overruns and delayed times are so common in PDCA cycles.

For example, I started writing a video game for iOS/Android and the iOS version was coming along nicely in simulators.


Good example. How many games have you published previously? Is this your first game or is publishing something you have done several times already? The reason I ask, is part of planning as to minimize delivery stress should factor in around 10% in unexpected delays or costs even for a well developed PDCA. For something you have never done before, a 50% estimate to deal with the unexpected is a good rule of thumb, but even that can be generous for goals that have a level of complexity, are dynamic, and if there is a high potential for unknown unknowns.

I wanted to load it to a device, and there is $99 royalty due to Apple for the privilege of testing ($1 or $999 releases the same emotion here). So it's less emotional to test (release, market, everything) on Android first, which means I have to re-click here and there join the dots all over again. So I stop for a cup for tea, because that is relaxing, and then risk going to work tomorrow with my personal hardware test pushed back to next week.


So when you set your goal to write a video game, you didn’t already know the above information? Where does this fall under PDCA? It is in the gap analysis, correct? And this is not an unknown unknown, but rather it was something possible to have known prior to starting the D part of the cycle. But you didn’t know it, somehow it was overlooked. That happens, no big deal, but it goes to the point that to minimize fatigues, delivery stress, and emotional negatives, having a more effective P can help then keep you focused.

And that you didn’t know the difference in process between iOS and Android suggests this is your first time to try and publish. If during planning your research showed publishing should take one week, then factor in two weeks. That will reduce fatigue and stress, by given adequate cushion for taking on a new goal in life.

Another way to think about it is that this is a brand new goal and brand new PDCA, so you should cut yourself a generous amount of slack.

But next week I am sitting an exam, so it will be pushed back again.. and I think there is a bigger exam toward the end of the month.. so my simple 'one step hardware test' is pushed back to February.


Both exams would have already been factored into an effective PDCA, correct? The only reason that may not have occured is if you expected that the video game would be published before next week. That is a fairly clear indication that when you are setting goals and get to the planning phase, you are overestimating how fast a goal can be accomplished, i.e. how fast the gap can be closed. You are not giving yourself enough cushion or room for unexpected issues that might surface.

***
The above stated, do you think having your brain not behave like a plastic toy will correct errors in planning? Would using techniques or tricks to related to neuroplasticity result in conducting a more thorough gap analysis, thereby discovering upfront that iOS and Android have different requirements?

Just my opinion, but it seems like this thread is just another distraction to add to your list. You have a video game to publish and two exams to prepare for, but instead you are in here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why. You are looking for answers to help with your focus. Fair enough. I hope you do find a few tricks or techniques you find useful. And, I hope you consider revisiting your PDCA.
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#8

Postby academic » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:04 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:How many PDCA cycles do you complete on a daily basis without even realizing it? You have routines that you run very efficiently, so efficiently that you don’t even notice.

I have not thought about it that way.

For me there is certainly only one formal PDCA implementation per defined project. Each implementation is adjusted to produce the artefacts needed for that project. I have not tried to maintain a super-PDCA to manage all PDCAs, partly because there are projects in my life that are bound to processes outside my control, and partly because I am not trying to catalog every risk and opportunity in my life! :wink:

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:
academic wrote:For example, I started writing a video game for iOS/Android and the iOS version was coming along nicely in simulators.

Good example. How many games have you published previously? ... For something you have never done before, a 50% estimate to deal with the unexpected is a good rule of thumb, but even that can be generous...

Wow, this is concrete! :oops: My home-built projects are all tiny, and I have not before written an iOS app. Having said that, most of the issues are known to me because my employment experiences are at the very opposite end of the scale.

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:
academic wrote:I wanted to load it to a device, and there is $99 royalty due to Apple for the privilege of testing..

So when you set your goal to write a video game, you didn’t already know the above information?

One of the most profound (and most obvious) observations that I have made in my life, is that every one of the great people who finished, also started! Sadly, the same cannot be said for all the people who planned. One of the reasons I enjoy PDCA as a pattern is because it encourages us to start now with the knowledge that our plan will be revised later.

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:... somehow it was overlooked. That happens, no big deal, but it goes to the point that to minimize fatigues, delivery stress, and emotional negatives, having a more effective P can help then keep you focused.

The reason that Apple's policy frustrated me this weekend is because this weekend was also the project's first iteration, and the full scope of 'problems' are being touched on early in the project lifespan, which means later iterations will contain fewer and fewer risks. The PDCA is the centre-pin of my very simple de-risking tactic.

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:
academic wrote:But next week I am sitting an exam, so it will be pushed back again.. and I think there is a bigger exam toward the end of the month.. so my simple 'one step hardware test' is pushed back to February.

Both exams would have already been factored into an effective PDCA, correct?

No, the exams would be in a different PDCA, and that will be running every weekday throughout January.

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:The only reason that may not have occured is if you expected that the video game would be published before next week.

I did not say that. I expected only that an element of the video game to display on my iPhone in the first iteration.

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:... it seems like this thread is just another distraction to add to your list. You have a video game to publish and two exams to prepare for, but instead you are in here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why.

I think you are half way to understanding my (potentially flawed) rationale.

Obviously my brain (and everyone else's) will fail to focus indefinitely. My readings suggest that we can profit from our inevitable focus failure by setting-up an unrelated yet otherwise productive distraction. If our distraction emerges every 4 hours, then a good distraction might be boosting blood sugar levels. In my case the distraction comes more frequently, and so perhaps for me a self-help psychology would provide a better long-term reward! :)
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#9

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:03 pm

Three points:

-1- Super-PDCA
-2- Over planning - Getting started
-3- Implentation Intentions

Super-PDCA
You might not have a formal super-PDCA, but it exists informally. This is true for everyone, in that PDCA is just a different version of natural planning. It could be APE, IDEA, OODA, RPD, Lean, or any other process model. For example, when you decide to go out to eat at a local restaraunt you are informally using PDCA.

It is natural to try and organize our lives, using to-do-lists, digital organizers, calendars, etc. In whatever way we organize, even if it is just in our mind, there is a heirarchy of goals we are wanting to achieve, with nested subgoals. You might have an informal PDCA, but nested within this informal super-PDCA is a PDCA for each project.

When you go to plan a formal PDCA, the failure to take into account the interdependence between various PDCA’s is a potential process error, right? I mean, if you treat PDCA’s as entirely independent entities, then your Plan will inevitably fail take into account that you have two exams or things outside of your control. This then leads to delivery stress.

I think you might benefit from looking at PDCA’s as other than closed systems. You might be able to reduce stress if you look at PDCA’s as hierarchical with nested PDCA’s and interdependence. In this way, if you have to Adjust one PDCA, you can account for how that adjustment might influence or impact other PDCA’s. In other words, by acknowledging that one project might influence another, you reduce stress.

Over Planning - Getting Started
I agree that there does exist the danger of paralysis by analysis. Given my background, rapid cycles are the norm rather than the exception. Having a rapid planning phase is crucial in dynamic environments. Regardless, planning is critical to success. There is the age old wisdom, measure twice, cut once. In your specific example, a bit more research on differences between iOS and Android might have helped you avoid the issue. Maybe not.

I don’t think there is an easy formula to determine the appropriate amount of planning, especially for a new PDCA. What I will say is that as we refine a PDCA a good indicator is that we don’t experience novelty, we don’t experience emotion as everything goes as planned. What previously was unknown, unexplored territory that proves frustrating becomes well traveled. At some point the PDCA becomes almost automatic.

With a new PDCA I think you are correct. The plan can be rough and then you must move to D in order to test or get feedback so as to then be able to A. This then helps revise the plan. The next time for instance, you will have already calculated in the iOS fee, it will no longer be a novel or unexpected complication. You might have discovered it in planning, but instead you discovered in during D and now must A.

The question then becomes, why when you hit a bump during D, does it delay you? Why does coming across an unexpected complication cause you to shut down the process (temporarily), losing focus in order to get a cup of tea? I mean you know your plan was not well developed and you don’t care, because you appreciate PDCA for the very reason you stated above, that PDCA encourages you to start now.

Implementation Intentions
Also known as pre-decisions, there is evidence that demonstrates you can maintain focus to achieve a goal if you use ‘implementation intentions’. I can’t remember the researcher, I think Peter Gollwitzer, but the basic idea is using IF/THEN has shown to lead to success in being able to encounter challenges to achieving a particular goal. It basically is a way of developing a plan to deal with a novel or unexpected issue prior to the issue surfacing.

For instance, IF an unexpected complication to developing the game surfaces, THEN stop D and move directly to A.
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#10

Postby academic » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:50 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:The question then becomes, why when you hit a bump during D, does it delay you? Why does coming across an unexpected complication cause you to shut down the process (temporarily), losing focus in order to get a cup of tea? I mean you know your plan was not well developed and you don’t care, because you appreciate PDCA for the very reason you stated above, that PDCA encourages you to start now.


I was initially stumped by your excellent question.

In the project discussed above, extra effort is needed to address an unplanned support task, and concluding that task would deliver immediate extrinsic reward. Despite the new task being comparatively simple, the new goal being near, and the reward being tangible, my motivation drops! It is very good of you to ask why.

It seems to me that I am strongly motivated (i.e. energised) to solve problems that provide mostly intrinsic reward, such as showing that I have independently solved a real-world problem. In contrast, pursuing the simpler task with immediate extrinsic reward incurs a very different physiological cost (i.e. headache).

It is as though the simple support task, such as signing-up with Apple, is sub-consciously rejected as an undesirable and irrelevant distraction. I have not identified the source of this negativity, but the negativity is recurring in various aspects of life (such as keeping receipts to claim tax returns).

This exercise reminds me of the now common assertion that people are irrational decision makers. For example, businesses observed that people like to keep things (such as money), and do not like to lose things (such as money). This behaviour recurs irrationally, and explains why so many consumers choose to pay money to keep the what they had initially received as a free trial!
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#11

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:08 pm

academic wrote:It is as though the simple support task, such as signing-up with Apple, is sub-consciously rejected as an undesirable and irrelevant distraction. I have not identified the source of this negativity, but the negativity is recurring in various aspects of life (such as keeping receipts to claim tax returns).


Think traffic jam. You generally have no idea when or where a traffic jam will occur. This holds particularly true if you have limited experience on a given roadway. This is similar to taking the new journey to create a video game.

You are driving down the road and a traffic jam occurs. Generally speaking this is frustrating. It can impact motivation negatively. Now you have a delay, you need to put in extra effort, take the detour, figure out other routes, and for what? There is nothing unique or exciting about a traffic jam. It is a familiar rather than novel situation. It doesn’t engage the mind and you lose valuable time. Ugh! Traffic jams suck.

But then you see a rampaging elephant coming through the cars and suddenly your mind is engaged! WTH! This is exciting, this is novel. You need to be careful and figure out how to avoid your car getting damaged or you being injured by an elephant that escaped an overturned truck up ahead. This was totally unexpected, but it’s awesome! Even though you will be delayed, this is worth it just for the story.

You get frustrated with the familiar, the dull, the routine unexpected delays. I think that is normal. Still, these types of delays should not cause “delivery stress”, unless you didn’t give yourself enough time to get to your destination. If you failed to account for the fact that you have never driven the road before, so you failed to put in a 50% margin of error to arrive on time for your flight, then stress would be a normal reaction.

I think you have two different issues here:

-1- Not factoring in a large enough degree of potential error.

-2- Most delays will not be novel. Most delays will not be a rampaging elephant. I think you need to adjust your expectations slightly. When you encounter a delay, expect that the majority of the time it will require patience, there won’t be anything to solve, and you won’t have any cool story to tell.

This exercise reminds me of the now common assertion that people are irrational decision makers. For example, businesses observed that people like to keep things (such as money), and do not like to lose things (such as money). This behaviour recurs irrationally, and explains why so many consumers choose to pay money to keep the what they had initially received as a free trial!


Take the above with a BIG grain of salt. Be skeptical.

What you have written about is called “loss aversion” and is part of a growing body of scientific research on cognitive bias. It is based on the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1974. Their work identified that at a specific point in time, a human will make an objectively poor economic decision. Since the original 4 biases identified in 1974, research on cognitive bias has now identified over 200 biases, over 200 “irrational decisions.”

The work is powerful. The work has broad application in any number of fields.

The weakness of the research is that it fails to take into account that an irrational decision at a specific moment, is entirely rational when looked at across a broad spectrum of time. The research also only looks at individual rationality and not group rationality.

In other words, for every cognitive bias identified you need to ask the question, “What is the adaptive benefit? Why would we have evolved to make such a decision?”

Your heart, your lungs, your eyes, your kidneys, basically every organ is adapted and performs pretty darn well at the role it plays in keeping you alive long enough to pass along your genes. Why would the brain be any different?

Let’s take the cognitive bias called “social reciprocity”. This is where researchers can show that if I give you some small gift for free, e.g. a can of coke and then later ask you to buy something from me, e.g. raffle tickets, that on average you will pay me 2.5 times the value of the coke. How irrational, right? Advertisers now use this trick all the time. The science works. Like I said, there is broad application of the science. Now ask yourself why? Why might people willingly give 2.5 times the value of the coke?

The adaptive answer is that social reciprocity is exactly that...reciprocal. It is not about a single transaction, but thousands of reciprocal transactions over a life time. We are social creatures that benefit by forming strong social bonds over time. My giving you 2.5 times the coke is not a loss for me, but rather a very rational way to ensure at some point in the future when a lion is trying to eat me that you will pick up the spear and come to aid me. What is seen as a cognitive bias based on a single economic transaction is actually a huge benefit when looked at through a different lens.

Now how about loss aversion. Why would you prefer to keep $5 instead of gain $5? It is the same amount either way, right? If you disagree with this objective economic reality then you are irrational, right?

Yet every single day you board an airplane that has been drastically over engineered with triple redundancy to make sure there is only a 1 in 15 million chance that it crashes. That is a form of being loss averse. Most buildings are constructed to be capable of handling loads well above what is necessary. Why? Because we rationally overprotect ourselves against loss, while only making incremental steps towards gains.

Cogniive bias is a bit more complex than above examples, but hopefully you get the underlying point. Be skeptical. There are reasons why bias exists. There is often times a benefit to bias.
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#12

Postby academic » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:45 pm

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:You get frustrated with the familiar, the dull, the routine unexpected delays. I think that is normal. Still, these types of delays should not cause “delivery stress”, unless you didn’t give yourself enough time to get to your destination. If you failed to account for the fact that you have never driven the road before, so you failed to put in a 50% margin of error to arrive on time for your flight, then stress would be a normal reaction.


I find it impossible to quantify the extra time needed. The rational amount time needed to complete the dull diversion is small, while the observed project delay is large.

Furthermore, I am here contemplating my errors, instead of just not doing them. This leads me to think the blocker is emotional (i.e. sadness) rather than physical (i.e. time).

academic wrote:It seems to me that I am strongly motivated (i.e. energised) to solve problems that provide mostly intrinsic reward, such as showing that I have independently solved a real-world problem. In contrast, pursuing the simpler task with immediate extrinsic reward incurs a very different physiological cost (i.e. headache).

It is as though the simple support task, such as signing-up with Apple, is sub-consciously rejected as an undesirable and irrelevant distraction. I have not identified the source of this negativity, but the negativity is recurring in various aspects of life (such as keeping receipts to claim tax returns).


Assuming my observations are unbiased, might the observed motivation and negativity be cause and effect?

For example, if someone can be metabolically energised by the negative fear of failure, then they could take refuge by calling a stop at the first opportunity to blame an external entity! Is that what I am doing with Apple? Most people probably say they fear either success or failure, but I fear both, because each reward in my life seems attributable to someone else's mistake.

(I wish that was a joke).
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#13

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:55 pm

academic wrote:I find it impossible to quantify the extra time needed. The rational amount time needed to complete the dull diversion is small, while the observed project delay is large.


It isn’t about the rational amount of time needed. That is the cognitive bias known as the planning fallacy.

For example, a rational amount of weight a person can lose in a week is between 1 or 2 lbs. But, the actual observed weight loss might be much slower. Therefore, how should you quantify the extra time needed?

Do you quantify by saying, “Well, rationally 1 lb a week times 10 lbs is 10 weeks?” No! That is the mistake people constantly repeat, thinking that somehow this attempt to lose weight will be different than all previous attempts.

Instead, you should create a plan based on observable past performance. If in the past you lost 2 lbs in a month, then your estimate should be that it will take 5 months to lose 10 lbs, not 10 weeks.

Your past performance indicates “emotional delays”. You know this. It is not an unknown variable. Therefore, factor that into your estimates when you are trying to accomplish a project.

academic wrote:For example, if someone can be metabolically energised by the negative fear of failure, then they could take refuge by calling a stop at the first opportunity to blame an external entity! Is that what I am doing with Apple? Most people probably say they fear either success or failure, but I fear both, because each reward in my life seems attributable to someone else's mistake.
(I wish that was a joke).


There is a cognitive bias called “attribution error”. This is where we tend to attribute our failures to some external cause, while the same error observed in another person we attribute to their lack of ability. For example, when you fail to turn a paper in on time, you attribute the error to the printer running out of ink. It’s not your fault. But, when someone else fails to turn in a paper on time you attribute it to their failure to plan.

Another thing to consider is the degree to which you are ‘promotion’ or ‘prevention’ oriented? In goal theory, a promotion oriented person is motivated towards success through positive reinforcement. This is the main driver. It isn’t a fear of failure that pushes them forward, but rather the expected benefit of achieving the goal.

A prevention oriented person is driven to success through fear of criticism, fear of failure, and trying to avoid negative reinforcement.

People are generally not strictly promotion or prevention, but a mix dependent on the project and overall context.

In the case of developing a video game, it seems like you are promotion focused. Running into a delay doesn’t give you the positive reinforcement. It doesn’t feel good, but negative emotions don’t motivate you. Negative reinforcement causes you to shut down.
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#14

Postby academic » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:24 pm

Very good, thank you.

My revised view is that the dull detour provokes an emotional reaction; and processing emotion the emotion is the unplanned context switch. In other words encountering a dull detour breaks the PDCA cycle not because it is creates new on-topic work tasks, but because it creates new off-topic emotion processing.

I am not sure the IF .. THEN .. works within the context of the project PDCA, because that would not address or wind-down the disruptive emotion.

However, if I factor-in active stress relieving into the project PDCA (such as exercising) then I have allocated time to do something that will wind-down the negative emotion, and hopefully allow the PDCA to continue where it left off without its blocker.

Let me know if that is bogus as I might be going in circles. Lets see..
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