Late by a day again, but better late than never!
Somehow, these amazing ideas don’t seem to extend to strategy. In the same engineering organizations, we appear stuck somewhere at the late stage of the waterfall model. There are annual cycles of strategic planning that march forward for a few months, culminating with docs and slide decks that inform organization’s leaders on where to focus and what investments to prioritize. Don’t get me wrong – these are often useful exercises. I remember the first earnest SWOT analysis I’ve gone through with my colleagues and the (alarming) clarity it brought. However, don’t they seem a bit like a throwback to the early days of software engineering? You know, the time when we still believed that we can ship perfect software if we just planned it hard enough?
It’s much easier to solve life’s most difficult problems by working from your end goal backwards instead of from your present state forwards.
The premise in the first half of the article is very interesting, seems so intuitive and yet it’s not obvious either. Yet, is it really true? This reminded me of state space planning (also called “classical planning”) where the act of planning consists of finding a series of actions that can be applied to the initial state to reach the goal state. Neither purely forward nor purely backward search works well, since the opportunities grow exponentially. Most practical strategies usually try meeting in the middle, with a whole lot of heuristics. So is life.
This sounds pretty bad. However, an important lesson I’ve learned in my career is this: if people are sufficiently motivated and the only barrier is an engineering problem, then it’s probably wise not to bet against them.
Cypherpunks are known to be unapologetic, though I am afraid the cryptocurrency community has swayed far from its roots.