Creativity

The advice I always give to my analyst team is to send their work BEFORE they had completely finished it, especially before they have polished it. I want to see the spreadsheets, their workings and their ideas before they had settled on an answer.

The advantages of sharing early

  • I get to see all the underlying data.
    Given time they will clean it up and only present the “relevant” data. Seeing all the data and associated thoughts, I may assign different importance to information they have discounted or draw different conclusions
  • I get to see a variety of possible ideas and views
    If they are given time to polish it, then only one view will be presented
  • We can have a vigorous, enjoyable and creative conversation.
    At this stage, other people’s input and ideas are useful as the answer is not fully known.

If I get the final product later

  • The final version will be well argued and compelling
    After all, my team are smart! It will be full of supporting data and information. The best analysts may also present some counter-arguments but no-one seems to represent the messiness of reality or admits they have no idea what is going on.
  • They will be proud of the work they have done.
    This means they will be protective, taking comments as criticism and most likely personal criticism. This leads to a conversation which will likely be professional, non-creative and pretty dull.

How I like to work

In the context of my previous piece on writing, I like work where there is an active response but no evaluation or criticism from allies and peers (middle-centre box in the grid); not a piece that has been written for evaluation by the boss (top-right box). I understand that this may not be standard, in fact it is the cultural opposite to how Ray Dalio describes Bridgewater in his “Principles”. This perhaps shows that many different approaches can be successful but it is important to know which one works for you and make sure you stick to it.

In this blog, I will try to follow my own advice. The posts may not be analytically perfect, well-footnoted or accurately referenced. The views presented will be ones that are liable to refinement and even complete reversal as more information and better analysis is included.

I hope this does not turn out like Charles Foster Kane’s Declaration of Principles.

One thought on “Creativity

  1. My understanding is that Dalio/Bridgewater believe in Truth and believe that their process separates Truth from Falsehood. With that goal, analytical rigor is important and creativity is not relevant.

    In contrast, a process that involves “ideas that could be priced” needs to put creativity much closer to the center.

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