Mediocrity vs Greatness in Complex Systems

It is 12:27AM and I didn’t write anything today. Better late than never.

These days I am thinking about complex systems. I am interested the most in what makes some teams, companies, or countries produce mediocre vs great results.

I am starting more and more to believe that the structure of the system matters more than the inputs. As long as the people pass a minimum qualifications threshold, their outcome is highly dependent on the structure they are in.

The problem is it is easy in retrospect to understand what made a system work or not work. It is hard to deliberately design a complex system in a way that makes it produce great results. You kinda need to control its evolution without intervening too much.

I think we will never find the answer to the why question. But the thing to keep in mind is that structures matter, and the outcomes are based on them.

Open Salaries

I joined Zalando open salary initiative. You submit your salary information to a form, once you do this you get access to all the other submissions of the form.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea. It is scary having your salary exposed to your colleagues.

It can lead to resentment if you discover you are under paid, or fear of envy/hate if you discover you are paid much higher than your colleagues.

After a lot of thinking and discussions with the founder of the initiative inside the company, I decided to join. I already knew where I am in comparison to my salary band before joining. However I had a few reasons to join.

1) Gathering the courage to do this. I like to push my limits and the fact I was fearing the consequences that may arise from this – including my own insecurities – made me more determined to do it.

2) Understanding the market. I hope one day to start a company and this was free data to understand how much it costs per engineer/product manager/data scientist…etc.

3) I don’t fit the typical stereotype of a wheelchair user who is also a social justice warrior, however I thought I might help someone by exposing this info. You never know.

At the end, I believe money doesn’t define one’s worth. What matters is the value you create in the universe and how you treat others around you. That being said, I believe money defines your level of freedom, which I am a big believer in, and that’s why I believe in money.