#16 3C's and Inversion

It's not "start with the end in mind"

Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward.

Charlie Munger


Let me give you a quick example. Imagine you are looking at a maze. Starting the maze with the intent of finishing it is "starting with the end in mind". Starting the maze at the end and working to the "start" is inverting the maze. Try it. You will find there is a huge advantage in inverting the problem that does not exist with "starting with the end in mind".

Here's another:

Humans are naturally inclined to strive for "more" and to do it "faster". This desire to "get there" quickly is what I refer to as "collapsing time." Time to target can be collapsed, but not in the way people typically think or behave.

Invert to Collapse Time

To collapse time we need to invert and work backward conceptually to move forward efficiently. It may seem counterintuitive but go back to the maze and imagine you actually have to walk, ride a bike or drive through it. The most efficient way to get to the end, quickly, would be to draw a map. The most efficient, the quickest way to draw a map? Start at the end and draw it backward.

In doing so, you have inverted the path (from end to start) conceptually in order to travel the path (from start to end) efficiently. Inverting it conceptually:

End <-- Path <-- Start

Has given you the most efficient path to travel:

Start --> Path --> End

The 3C's And Collapsing Time

So let's talk about collapsing time or "getting there faster". First, we must have the path charted. Driving faster without directions is not likely to get you where you want to be. Knowing the path(s) forward is "Certainty."

Certainty precedes Collapsing Time.

Certainty on the path(s) forward requires that we know exactly where we are starting and the exact destination or outcome we are trying to achieve. We cannot chart a path without those two data points and we will chart the wrong path if they lack precision. (it's amazing to me how many people want directions but won't be honest about where they are staring or what they actually want).

Clarity precedes Certainty.

We want to collapse time which requires certainty which requires clarity. Conceptually:

Collapsing Time <-- Certainty <-- Clarity

The most efficient path forward:

Clarity --> Certainty --> Collapsing Time

Clarity is like Mapquest.

We must define where we are and where we want to go before we do anything else. Then, by studying the "lay of the land" we can chart the most efficient path given what we know to be true right now. It's the best estimate given the current logic, reasoning, and evidence available. A plan to get from point A to point B is clarity.

Clarity is necessary, but rarely enough. Just like a little traffic, road closure, or fallen tree can block a major road or highway and can mess up the direction you printed off from MapQuest, reality has a way of not going as planned.

Certainty is like Google Maps.

It's an operating system and consistently updated toolbox that allows for real-time adjustments to the path given unexpected events. Certainty requires the ability to figure things out, an open-minded and adaptable attitude, and an understanding of the current situation to make adjustments as needed.

If a one-time plan is Clarity, ongoing coaching or self-development is Certainty. (This is what we teach in the CCA, the ability to figure anything out)

Clarity is like MapQuest (or the first route given by Google Maps). Certainty is the ability to figure out alternative plans when life happens just as Google Maps adjusts to reality.

Collapsing Time is like having a friend on speed dial that is also a police officer in one of the towns you are driving through that will usher you through the town well above the speed limit as a favor. And another friend in another town that knows where all the speed traps are (since getting pulled over will slow you down) and where you can speed safely.

It's having the wherewithal, resources, and ability to recognize or create leverage along the journey in little ways that can shave months, years, or even decades off your journey.

You cannot collapse "time to target" if you don't have the ability to figure out minor hiccups in the path. You cannot figure out how how to navigate minor hiccups if you don't have clarity on the path, to begin with.

Clarity --> Certainty --> Collapsing time.

The 3C's.

When you understand the 3C's you can better decisions. You don't have to ask: "is this widget, program, or service worth $40k?" or "If I pay $20k will I make it back soon?" Instead, you'll have the ability to recognize how it impacts "time to target" and ask yourself things like "Is it worth $40k to get there 4 years sooner?" or "is it worth $20k to increase the probability that I can figure out what comes next?"

In other words, you make decisions to get what you want, not to get "more, faster".

Something to think about.


PS. This is worth reading today: "contended dazzlement of surprise"