Shorter decision cycles

So in the last Barcamp Singapore, there was a guy who talked about the (bleak) future of robotics in our lives. (I read somewhere there’s a bot that washes and massages your hair). He made a point that robots make building stuff faster and easier, for example, a 30-storey building in China could be built in days.

Because building stuff becomes faster and easier, decision making skills become more important.

An audience member commented the opposite, that because building stuff becomes faster and easier, decision making skills are less important (because you can always start over).

As with most complex issues, both answers are correct, under certain conditions.

In the long run, decision making skills are more important because the consequences of those decisions compound over time. If you never learn from your past decision mistakes, then compounding will eventually break you. You can start over, but you’ll never improve the quality of the sum total of your decision consequences.

In the short term, decisions might not be as important, since you can always start over. You either didn’t lose much money or much time.

However, consider the situation where there are 2 billionaires. Both decide to build multiplexes. Half-way through, the 2nd billionaire found out a mistake and decides to abort the project. Then he starts a new one (maybe build somewhere else).

Sure, the 2nd billionaire might be just days behind the 1st billionaire. That might not mean much.

But these are billionaires we’re talking about. If the 1st billionaire is astute, he would have already gained enough of an advantage that the 2nd billionaire would never catch up.

In the hands of the capable, even making just one more good decision is crucial.