Dan Ariely and NFX wrote an excellent reminder about the pitfall of assuming user behavior that simply does not match reality. When startups do this, they fail. Read on for 3 Ways to avoid these pitfalls in a start up.

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https://www.nfx.com/post/irrational-truths-behind-user-behavior/?

1. Test Your Assumptions before you marry them

It is very hard to divorce assumptions in a start up. People get wedded to an idea that they’ve invested in and, as a result, it can take months to get away from a bad assumption.

To avoid this, test the assumption before marrying it.

For example: a 2-sided labor market startup was trying to match shift workers to potential shifts at nearby employers. How might it help workers pick up more shifts? One suggestion was to build a matching algorithm that would ask users when they wanted to pick up shifts and then send them shifts that matched their needs(this startup clearly had the engineering horsepower to build sophisticated matching algorithms). …


A recent (June 26) McKinsey & Company survey of executives found that 80 percent of employees are expected to return to the workplace by September. While initiatives are well underway for physical measures — such as separating desks — companies are lagging in the identifying and isolating potentially infectious people. The sooner individuals are notified and informed to stay at home, the better for everyone in the workplace. Even a 3-day delay in identification causes community spread to be almost as bad as doing nothing.

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The survey tested four types of interventions in support of a safe return.


A set of reminders for starting a new role in a new start up.

During my 15-year career in product leadership roles in start ups I’ve often had the chance to reflect on what I’d do differently or better next time. Sometimes this reflection has come a few years after a startup was acquired, with the benefit of distance. Sometimes it comes when I am working with a startup team and advising them in their journey. I remember being in their shoes and seeing things that they don’t see when they are in the thick of it. I can’t help but notice mistakes they are making and knowing I have made the same mistakes as well. …


What’s behind the magic of a search engine?

I deepened my knowledge of search engines, with the goal of being able to explain it to someone who is curious about it, but not in the weeds of technology — like my kids or my parents.

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https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/

What is a search engine supposed to do?

There’s a lot of publicly available content on the internet. A lot of WEB PAGES. People need to find the ones that are relevant to answering their specific question.

  • “What is the weather in San Mateo?”, “What’s the latest on the coronavirus?”, “Easy HIIT workout” or “Boys black dress shoes”.

There’s vastness on both sides of this problem: vastness in the range of questions people ask, called QUERIES, and vastness in the number of web pages. In 2018 there were 1.7 …


Solving the biggest issues in the future of work.

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A recent breakfast discussion with Dean Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School, inspired this article.

The harsh truth is that if you are an employee, you are either already obsolete — and won’t get a coveted role — or you are going to become obsolete in that role within 5 years. I’m not kidding.


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We all know someone who was inspired to aim higher, dramatically change field or acquire new skills. Our economy will need vast amounts of this behavior.

All trends around the “future of work” require human beings to be open to more dramatic change, more frequently. Employers have job needs which could be filled, if only someone would be willing to re-imagine or re-skill to fit the need.

Assume that (1) new jobs are emerging, (2) training is becoming increasingly accessible via online, bootcamp and micro- options, and (3) new forms to fund training are emerging.

There’s still one major ingredient missing:
individuals themselves making a decision to attempt a very new job.

If you lose your job as an administrative assistant, do you simply use one of many excellent job boards to apply for other administrative assistant jobs, or do you aim for something new and better? …


Peter Thiel provides a philosophical book that is logical and thought provoking.

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Peter Thiel posits that we have a mind-set that is a product of our environment. Unlike the environment of the 1950s, when we experienced tremendous innovation, Thiel suggests that the environment now is rife with pessimism and uncertainty. As a result Thiel argues that the mindset we all share is incrementalism. This leads to looking for ways to reduce uncertainty: building new companies that are slight variations of existing ones (incremental improvements) and not committing to big plans.

Thiel presents “staying agile” as the prevailing dogma, a direct result of a mind-set that the world is highly uncertain. …


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Discussing Future of Work at the Stanford d.school earlier this year

A few months ago I left my role as VP Product in a Bay Area startup to deeply research topics around the Future of Work. To kick off the new year, I’m summarizing some thoughts and topics I’ll go into deeper this year.

I am greatly indebted to experts who took the time to share their experiences and information. I’ve spoken to leaders from massive global technology companies, start ups who are breaking new ground in this space, think tanks, research institutes, and non-profit organizations. …


Kids are stressed out in the United States. Suicide rates are increasing. Organizations such as Challenge Success are evangelizing that kids (and their parents) need to stop focusing the childhood years on getting into the “best” colleges. Using words from their mission statement: “We know that every child has his or her own story and path to success.” So they urge parents to chill and take the pressure off their kids, for the sake of their health and happiness, and instead focus on helping their children be curious learners, resilient individuals and have a moral compass.

It turns out that childhoods are being spent chasing grades and activities to get into the best colleges. The students that achieve this kind of success are described in the book Excellent Sheep written by a former Yale professor. They are adept at chasing test scores and achieving. They’re even adept at looking happy, adjusted, well rounded, and not overly competitive. What they’re not good at is finding meaning, personal connection, developing a love of learning, developing an ability to think — or happiness. …


We’ve seen major corporations declare that all their employees will learn to code. Should we insist our children do?

Machines won’t take all the jobs, despite the headlines. But organizations will compete based on the ability of humans and machines to work together, pitting machine + human vs. machine + human. Humans that can operate machines creatively will be highly sought after.

That leads to arguments like:
All kids should code, whether they love it or not, and whether it comes easily or not. It’s like kids who might hate reading or math. Hating is not an option. They have to struggle through. It might not be “fun” for every kid. But it’s up to schools to make it easier, more accessible and more engaging. …

About

sunita.parbhu

Start ups, emerging technologies, markets, economics, network effects, behavioral insights; application in software products

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