Error and Innovation by TIm Harford #ESOCong #MRX

… Live blogging from the 2013 ESOMAR Congress in Istanbul Turkey. Any errors are my own, any comments or terrible jokes in [] are my own…

esomarCongressOpening keynote speaker: Error and Innovation

Tim Harford, Author and senior columnist, Financial Times, UK;

  • Are Olympic athletes just born with amazing genes and they’re lucky to win? But how can people and teams win over and over again? There must be more to it. What is that thing?
  • The British cycling team says it’s all because of Matt Parker – “Hot Pants”. He made sure to warm up the cyclers legs before racing with electrically heated shorts [ha ha ha, no not THOSE hot pants]
  • Parker also realized that alcohol on the tires of the bikes removes a tiny layer of dirt meaning the bikes wouldn’t slip in the initial start of the race. He also told the athletes to wash their hands to avoid germs and illnesses from meeting so many people from around the world.
  • His job title was “Head of marginal improvements”
  • Massive results can come from tiny innovations built on top of each other, 10s of thousands of a second add up over time and are eventually enough to be the difference between a gold and silver medal
  • Hospitals and schools need this process of breaking things down into their component partsP1090929
  • You might also call it A B testing, test the colors, the fonts, the design and see what makes people buy
  • But you can’t jump over a canyon in tiny steps
  • During WWII, why would you need a fighter plane that didn’t have a co-pilot and couldn’t be used against bombers that arrived unexpectedly?  “It will be a most interesting experiment”  This plane was the spitfire, one of the most loved aircraft in the history of aviation. People came to britain just to fly this plane. It was really fast, maneuverable. This plane was so good, it turned back the german airforce. It cost 10 000 pounds, the price of one house in London at the time. This long shot really paid off.
  • We like to try new things, little things. We can’t always take small steps though. Chance of failure is very high. You can have multiple failures if the success is big enough.
  • We find it hard to support people who bet on long shots.
  • Too many smart people try to impress too many other smart people too quickly – A complaint about Harvard University. You need to not be trying to impress someone every minute of every hour.
  • if you think big, you will fail and you will fail a lot
  • It’s hard to tell the difference between a total loser and a genius
  • Why must the risk taker bear all the responsibilities for failure? We must all support people who are willing to take risks, not only those that turn out to be successes
  • The internet was people betting on a small chance of success with many opportunities for failure
  • We owe to these dreamers that we will share the risks
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