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Learn these simple yet powerful frameworks to apply in your life.
What is a framework?
A systematic way of thinking that allows you to understand the world better. Although useful, all frameworks are imperfect since they simplify things and are rough approximations of the truth.
Suppose that you struggle to reach the goals that you set for yourself. How can a framework help you?
A goal-setting framework (e.g., SMART goals) can motivate you to reach your goals by setting more meaningful (e.g., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals.
What goal in your life would you like to use the SMART (e.g., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals framework to motivate you to reach your goals with more actionable and measurable milestones?
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What's an example for each of the four types of decisions in the F.I.R.E. framework?
- Fast: Your train is about to leave and you need to decide which ticket to buy
- Irrelevant: Which t-shirt to wear at home
- Repetitious: A heart surgeon who is conducting her 500th heart surgery
- Evolutionary: You feel disgusted when smelling something expired in your fridge
How can your forecasts benefit from using the Outside View?
We usually get caught up in the details of our case and forget to account for unexpected problems and delays. The Outside View can provide a different perspective on the data and it can help you to identify potential problems that you may not have considered.
Suppose you think of finishing a project within four weeks, as outlined in your five-step project plan. Does your prediction use the Inside View or the Outside View?
The Inside View, because you considered the specifics of this case (e.g., the five-step plan). With the Outside View, you would have looked at previous similar projects.
How can you use the Outside View to predict how likely your startup will succeed?
You can study the success rate of previous startups to estimate a base rate, then adjust the base rate to consider your specific factors (e.g., your experience and industry).
How can you use the Outside View to predict how long it will take you to lose 8 pounds?
You can estimate a base rate by looking at how long it took similar people (e.g., same sex and age) to lose 8 pounds, then adjust the estimate based on how much effort you're willing to put in.
Which are the three factors to determine the best E.A.R.R. strategy (Exit, Alter, React or Reframe) to reduce the harm from a situation?
- Chance to solve or mitigate your problem (e.g., it's 20% likely that quitting my job will help me)
- Cost to implement (e.g., it costs $1,000 to fix my broken car)
- Values and ethics (e.g., if someone mistreated you, Reframing the issue alone might not satisfy you)
Is there always a single best strategy (Exit, Alter, React or Reframe) to reduce the harm from a situation?
No, sometimes the best solution is a combination of strategies (e.g., first you Reframe the situation to feel more empowered to change it, then try to Alter it).
Which are the Four Stages Of Competence when learning a new skill?
- Unconscious incompetence: we're unaware of our ignorance on the subject.
- Conscious incompetence: we know what it takes to become competent.
- Conscious competence: we are competent but still need to put effort.
- Unconscious competence: we can perform well without effort.
How does the meaning of "unconscious" change between Unconscious incompetence and Unconscious competence ?
In stage 1, "unconscious" is synonymous with "ignorance," while it's synonymous with "intuitive" in stage 4.
Suppose you don't know the skills needed to become a master during your first martial arts class. At which of the Four Stages Of Competence are you?
Stage 1 (Unconscious incompetence): You don't know what there is to know about the subject.
Suppose you know what you need to learn to do a leg lock in martial arts but haven't yet mastered it. At which of the Four Stages Of Competence are you?
Stage 2 (Conscious incompetence): You know your limits and what you need to learn.
How can you use the F.I.R.E. framework to improve your decisions?
Save time by following your gut for F.I.R.E. decisions (Fast, Irrelevant, Repetitious, or Evolutionary). Otherwise, avoid costly mistakes by not relying solely on your gut feeling when you need careful analysis (e.g., considering quitting your job after a bad week at work.)
Suppose you mastered martial arts skills but still need effort and attention to make a good move. At which of the Four Stages Of Competence are you?
Stage 3 (Conscious competence): You still need to pay attention and effort to perform competently.
According to the F.I.R.E. framework, for which type of decisions can you rely on your gut or intuition?
- Fast: You need to decide quickly
- Irrelevant: You don't care
- Repetitious: You made this decision many times before with consistent feedback
- Evolutionary: Our ancestors made this decision in our evolutionary past
Suppose that you can effortlessly spar with an opponent and devote your attention to how they can improve. At which of the Four Stages Of Competence are you?
Stage 4 (Unconscious competence): You can competently perform without effort and while multitasking.
For a decision to be Repetitious in the F.I.R.E. framework, why do you need to have had consistent feedback on your performance?
Without feedback on prior decisions, our intuition isn't reliable (e.g., you wrote a joke but didn't tell it to a crowd yet.) When we get quality feedback on our performance, our intuition incorporates the feedback and becomes more reliable.
Is it always necessary to ask yourself why five times when using the Five Whys framework?
No. Unless it's an important issue, you may want to stop asking "why" when you're confident that you reached the root of the problem.
What is reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
You consciously and explicitly think through the decision, requiring mental effort (e.g., multiplying 7 32 in your head). You also use intuition—multiplying 7 32 might make you think immediately that 7 * 30 equals 210—but don't entirely rely on it.
Can you always find the answer to the Five Whys immediately?
Not always, as you sometimes need more information. For example, if you're often in a bad mood, you may realize after the third or fourth "why" that you need to look up some information about mood disorders before you can answer another "why."
What are the four ways intuition benefits reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
- BRAINSTORM more options
- PREDICT what's going to happen
- Know your VALUES and how to balance them
- Get INFORMATION from your subconscious
Suppose that you went on a date that went a lot worse than expected. Why is the Five Whys framework useful for understanding the problem?
If you had asked "why" once, you would have a shallow understanding of the problem (e.g., "I got bored.") With five whys, you can get an insight (e.g., "I don't have many like-minded friends") and how to improve your next date (e.g., "speak to a therapist about my insecurities.")
How does brainstorming help with reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
When deciding, we tend to think of only a few options (e.g., should I quit or stay at my job?), but your decision can't be better than the best option you consider. Brainstorm more options (e.g., change team at your company, or ask for a raise) to make better decisions.
Which framework helps you understand when companies cause harm instead of being helpful to society?
The Which Companies Cause Harm framework.
How do predictions help with reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
You can intuitively predict what you think will happen (e.g., if I break up with my partner, I will feel sad for months.) While you might be wrong (e.g., you may not be sad for so long), predictions help you imagine the potential outcomes of your decision.
Suppose that a company is misleading customers that buy its harmful product. Are the consumers irrational?
No. The purchase of a product based on imperfect information can be rational. Given the available (misleading) information, the consumer may have good reason to think that the product will be beneficial.
How does knowing your values help with reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
An intrinsic value is something you care about for its own sake (e.g., learning or integrity). Knowing your values helps you weigh them when facing a decision where they are in conflict (e.g., should I accept this dream job offer but move far away from my friends and family?)
How is an addictive video game causing harm, according to the Which Companies Cause Harm framework?
The video game exploits people's irrationality, as the game causes more harm (e.g., time or money spent) than enjoyment, and users spend more time playing it than they would have wanted.
How does subconscious information help with reflective decision-making in the F.I.R.E. framework?
Your subconscious can surface relevant information. For example, when you're thinking about your back pain, you remember your friend telling you that you slouch when sitting, so you mention this to your doctor.
How is a course helping people get into top universities causing harm, according to the Which Companies Cause Harm framework?
The course engages in zero-sum games because if someone buys the course and passes the exam for a fixed amount of slots, someone else doesn't get the slot. So the net benefit is zero or negative when considering the cost of training.
According to the F.I.R.E. framework, should you follow your gut feeling when deciding whether to get married or not?
Consider if the decision is:
• FAST? No, there's no hurry.
• IRRELEVANT? No, it's important.
• REPETITIOUS? No, even having been married before isn’t enough experience.
• EVOLUTIONARY? No, it's not.
As the decision is not F.I.R.E., you shouldn't rely only on intuition.
How can a social media app cause negative externalities in the Which Companies Cause Harm framework?
When others pay the social cost of using the app rather than the app developer or consumer. For example, some social media users might seem uncaring to their families because they check their phones during dinner.
What are the Inside View and the Outside View when making predictions?
The Inside View considers the details of a single case using your feelings, intuition, and experience (e.g., a project seems short to complete). In contrast, the Outside View considers the category of similar cases (e.g., previous projects took 5 hours on average.)
When using the Outside View, which class of cases should you pick to estimate a base rate?
You should pick the most similar class to your specific case but still has enough data points to be informative.
Suppose you invite a friend for dinner and want to estimate how often your friend is late, but you can think of only two previous dinners. How can you use the Outside View to predict if your friend will be late?
As two data points are not enough for a reliable estimate, ask yourself, "how often has my friend been late out of all our previous plans of any kind?" which is a broader category than dinners.
How do you combine the Inside View and the Outside View to make better predictions?
Start by making a prediction using the Outside View, then adjust that prediction using the Inside View.
How can you combine the Inside View and the Outside View to predict how long it will take you to read your next book?
Ask yourself, "How long has it typically taken me to read a similar book in the past?" (e.g., 8 hours), then adjust based on the book's characteristics. For example, if it's long and dense, it might take 50% longer (e.g., 12 hours).
According to the E.A.R.R. framework, which are the four types of solutions to a harmful situation?
- EXIT the situation (e.g., run out of a burning building)
- ALTER the situation (e.g., fix a broken heater)
- REACT differently (e.g., do more homework to do better at school)
- REFRAME your thoughts and feelings (e.g., accept that it takes time to get results at work)
How can you use the E.A.R.R. framework to improve your life?
Brainstorm and compare solutions systematically with the E.A.R.R. framework to best reduce the harm from a challenging circumstance (e.g., a problem at work or a destructive relationship).
Suppose that your relationship is going poorly. According to the E.A.R.R. framework, what might your four options look like?
- EXIT: end the relationship.
- ALTER: ask your partner to stop criticizing you more often than they compliment you.
- REACT: work on being less jealous.
- REFRAME: say to yourself, "it's okay that we sometimes annoy each other, that's normal in a relationship."
How can you use the Four Stages of Competence to improve your life?
The Four Stages Of Competence framework can help you become more aware of your level of competence in a skill, so you can set more realistic goals and develop a plan for how to improve.
Which are the five factors of SMART goals?
- Specific: what exactly are you trying to achieve?
- Measurable: which sub-goals or indicators can measure your progress?
- Achievable: is the goal not too easy or too difficult?
- Relevant: do you really value reaching the goal?
- Time-bound: when do you plan to achieve it?
Which are the three benefits of using SMART goals?
- You know what it takes to reach your goals.
- You make sure you're working towards your goals by measuring progress.
- You feel more in control with actionable goals.
Suppose you've been trying to "lose weight" for a long time with little success. What is an example of a SMART goal instead of "lose weight"?
You can set the goal to "Lose 2 pounds per week for four weeks," with the sub-goal of "exercise Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."
What is the Five Whys technique?
The Five Whys technique is used to determine the root cause of a problem. The technique involves asking why five times, where each "why" question follows the previous answer.
Suppose that you went on a date that went a lot worse than expected. Which technique can you use to understand the root problem?
The Five Whys. For example, you can think that "The date went poorly 1) because I got bored 2) because I avoided deep conversations 3) because I was worried to get judged negatively 4) because I often get judged for my opinions 5) because I don't have many like-minded friends".
Which are the four ways companies can cause harm according to the Which Companies Cause Harm framework?
- Exploiting imperfect information (e.g., a useless diet pill sold as effective)
- Exploiting irrationality (e.g., an addictive video game)
- Zero-sum games (e.g., a course getting people into top universities)
- Negative externalities (e.g., a factory dumping waste in a river)
How is a pill that falsely claims to cure you causing harm, according to the Which Companies Cause Harm framework?
The pill is exploiting imperfect information, as people might buy the supplement because of misleading (or missing) information.
Suppose that you're thinking about starting your own company. How can knowledge of the Which Companies Cause Harm framework help you?
Knowing the framework can help you be a more ethical startup founder by avoiding the four ways companies can cause harm.
What framework can you apply if you can't figure out if you should follow your gut for a decision?
The F.I.R.E. decision-making framework. For example, if you're considering quitting your job, you should use reflective decision-making as the decision is not F.I.R.E. (fast, irrelevant, repetitious, or evolutionary).
Suppose that you want to save money but never actually do it. What framework can you apply to get yourself to do it?
The SMART goals framework. For example, the goal of "save $250 per month until December" might be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.)
Suppose you don't know what you need to learn to become a chef. What framework helps you understand your skill level?
The Four Stages Of Competence framework: You're probably at Stage 1 (Unconscious incompetence), where it's normal not to know which skills you need for mastery.
If you feel like you never reach the goals you set for yourself, what framework could you apply to help solve this problem?
You could apply the SMART goals framework to set meaningful goals that you are more likely to achieve.
SMART is an acronym for goals that are:
Suppose that you have an upcoming pay raise negotiation with your manager. Which framework can you apply to make an accurate pay raise prediction?
The Inside/Outside View framework. Start with the Outside View (e.g., your other colleagues got a 5% raise), then adjust your forecast by using the Inside View (e.g., you over-performed compared to my colleagues, so change from 5% to 7%) to get your final prediction.
Suppose your fear of public speaking often gets in your way. Which framework can you apply to improve the situation?
The E.A.R.R. framework. For example:
• EXIT: stop giving public speeches
• ALTER: bring notes as support if you get lost presenting
• REACT: join Toastmasters International to overcome your fear
• REFRAME: think "it's common to feel nervous before a presentation"
Suppose that you're often running late. Which framework can you apply to understand the root cause of your behavior?
The Five Whys framework. For example:
- Why am I often late? Because I lose the bus.
- Why? Because I underestimate the time to get ready to leave.
- Why? Because I don't plan for the time to dry my hair.
Three whys might be enough to reach the root cause in this case.
If you disagree with your friend saying that "if people are buying a product, it means the product is adding value to the world," what framework can help you respond?
The Which Companies Cause Harm framework. There are four ways companies can cause harm even with people buying their products:
- Exploiting imperfect information
- Exploiting a person's irrationality
- Zero-sum games
- Negative externalities
Suppose you're a good writer, but it's still hard for you to write a good line. What framework can you apply to understand your skills?
The Four Stages Of Competence framework: You're probably at Stage 3 (Conscious competence), where it's normal to require effort and attention to perform competently.
Suppose you're thinking of asking a stranger at a bar for a first date. What framework might help you decide whether you should go with your gut?
The F.I.R.E. decision-making framework. If getting the first date with a stranger at a bar is not that important, going with your gut may be your best option, as it meets the “Irrelevant” criterion in F.I.R.E. (fast, irrelevant, repetitious, evolutionary).