Are You a Fox or a Hedgehog?

I have an ever growing list of books I want to read. One of them is The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.

People seem to like human and animal comparison. I’m not a huge fan of them, but Nate Silver as a really interesting one in his book.

How Foxes Think How Hedgehogs Think
Multidisciplinary: Incorporate ideas from different disciplines regardless of their origin on the political spectrum Specialized: Often have spent the bulk of their careers on one or two great problems. May view the opinions of “outsiders” skeptically.
Adaptable: Find a new approach – or pursue multiple approaches at the same time – if they aren’t sure the original one is working. Stalwart: Stick to the same “all-in” approach – new data is used to refine the original model.
Self-critical: Sometimes willing (if rarely happy) to acknowledge mistakes in their predictions and accept the blame for them. Stubborn: Mistakes are blamed on bad luck or on idiosyncratic circumstances – a good model had a bad day.
Tolerant of complexity: See the universe as complicated, perhaps to the point of many fundamental problems being insolvable or inherently unpredictable. Order-seeking: Expect that the world will be found to abide by relatively simple governing relationships once the signal is identified through the noise.
Cautious: Express their predictions in probabilistic terms and qualify their opinions. Confident: Rarely hedge their predictions and are reluctant to change them.
Empirical: Rely more on observation than theory. Ideological: Expect that solutions to many day-to-day problems are manifestations of some grander theory or struggle.

So what am I, a fox or hedgehog ?

  • Multidisciplinary vs Specialized: Easy one, Multidisciplinary. I studied marketing, started working in sales, then did some marketing, project management, product management, product design, web design and development, social media, community management, event organizing. Now I’m thinking about switching to data analytics.
  • Adaptable vs Stalwart: I would dare to say Adaptable. I get bored by doing the same thing and it is even more boring doing the same thing in the same way. There are always new and sometimes better ways to do things, so you could at least try some of them from time to time.
  • Self-critical vs Stubborn: Well .. a little bit of both. I always acknowledge my mistakes and I never mind taking the blame, but I do tend to be stubborn and sometimes I do not see things as they truly are.
  • Tolerant of complexity vs Order-seeking: I think Tolerant of complexity. I do like order, but I think that things are most of the time complex and I do enjoy trying to solve them or looking for solutions.
  • Cautious vs Confident: Probably too Cautious for my taste and I little more confidence wouldn’t hurt.
  • Empirical vs Ideological: I think Empirical, but I’m not totally sure of this one.

It seems I am a fox, although I do have some spines.
Is this a good or a bad thing? I don’t really know.
Should you prefer a company full of foxes or full of hedgehogs? I don’t know, you could pick either one.

But looking at the agile approach companies seem to take in the last years I think a fox would be a better fit.

It is better to move in smaller steps and you want to observe, measure and adjust along the way.
You need to be aware that customers don’t always fit a typical already known belief. So you need to prepare for more than one outcome.

And speaking about more than one outcome, it is probably a good idea to also have in mind more than one approach. This is why I am a big fan of multidisciplinary teams. You always get great results when you mix ideas from different disciplines.

I also want to add that if something worked yesterday it won’t necessarily also work tomorrow. And if something didn’t worked yesterday, it will probably not work tomorrow.
Don’t get stuck in the past.

So are you a fox or a hedgehog?

fox

Related Posts