The Harvard Business Review Fallacy

A typical Harvard Business Review two by two grid where it's easy to guess the good quadrant

Every Harvard Business Review article worth it’s salt boils some complex problem down to a two by two grid. Usually something like awesomeness and profitability:

Being non-profitable and not awesome is no fun. Awesomeness without profitability might work for some organizations. Being profitable but not awesome for others. But the place to be is awesome and profitable!

With this bracing insight the authors will cherry pick some companies that match the upper-right hand quadrant and tediously stretch their turpid insight out to book length.

In reality this is a false dilemma (or technically a false tetralemma, but that’s an awkward phrase so I prefer the HBR fallacy instead).

My favorite example is Pascal’s Wager. This is a typical HBR two by two grid based on belief in God and the existence of God.

  1. Don’t believe / No God, you’re fine (meh).

  2. Don’t believe / God, go to Hell (infinite punishment).

  3. Believe / No God, you’re fine (meh).

  4. Believe / God, go to Heaven (infinite reward).

You only have one rational choice here says Pascal.

There is a lot wrong with this argument, but the wrongest thing is the HBR fallacy. There are infinitely many possible Gods with infinitely many good and bad outcomes. You might be living in a universe where the only God is the God of the Thargoids. The one real God might send you to Heaven only if you kill a gopher every Wednesday.

Nobody is going to open any doors and show you any goats.

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The end of Facebook

Updated on Sunday, April 25, 2021

Holy shit I just finished Facebook. Didn't think that was possible. It was passably tolerable while it lasted but I guess I need to find something else now...

So I'm not on Facebook any more, but while I was, just one time, I reached the end:

Add Friends to See More Stories: You'll have more stories in News Feed if you add more friends.

Holy shit I just finished Facebook. Didn't think that was possible. It was passably tolerable while it lasted but I guess I need to find something else now...

I imagine a product manager got fired every time that message was shown.

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News: When should web designers use modal overlays?

Updated on Sunday, March 13, 2022

When should web designers use modal overlays?

"OK, yes, there are times when modals make sense (compose new tweet comes to mind), but if the web has a bigger annoyance than this (apart, possibly, from autoplay video), I don't know what it is."

Please enjoy the irony of trying to read this article on a mobile phone while the text shifts crazily around the page to make room for the autoplay video ad.

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Drone School

Updated on Saturday, February 19, 2022


Updated on Thursday, August 5, 2021


New Scientist hypes DeepCoder:

"Software called DeepCoder could allow non-coders to simply describe and idea for a program and let the system build it"

Coding is nothing but simply describing an idea for a program. As simply as possible but no simpler. Won't be really useful without an AI product manager.

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The World Economic Forum has published a risk/reward matrix for 12 key "emerging" technologies. You'd think this would be pretty good, because:

"The report’s conclusions on risk are heavily based on its Global Risks Perception Survey, which gathers the opinions of the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder communities of leaders from business, government, academia and nongovernmental and international organizations. Members of the Institute of Risk Management are also consulted."

For some reason IoT devices are the second highest risk. Ahead of biotechnology (we're all dead from an engineered virus), nanomaterials (we're all dead because we're now gray goo) and space technologies (we're all dead because we provoked a violent alien civilization).

The least benefit comes from Geoengineering. Because with Trump in power I'm sure we're going to solve Global Warming via emission cuts. There is apparently more benefit in Virtual Reality and even more in 3D Printing.

(Image from World Economic Forum)

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etc, wef

Happy Storm


Updated on Thursday, February 2, 2017


This stupidly placed light switch has been niggling around near the bottom of my list for nearly three years. It's probably sat there with its wires exposed for closer to thirteen, since the kitchen was remodeled by the previous owners.

I could have hunted down a plate and tried to saw a bit off I guess but we got a 3D printer for Christmas and I finally fixed it:


This was easier than I thought once I discovered that this sort of switch is a Decora Duplex. I grabbed this model from user KHF on 3D Warehouse (thanks!), chopped the edge off in FlashPrint, two failed prints (glue, then hairspray, then figuring out the temperature was wrong) and only slightly sliced open my thumb removing the supports. Welcome to the future!

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I haven't checked Klout for a long time - while I was away they've decided I'm a expert in Indian politics. Explains a lot...

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News: We Need to Raise Taxes for Shareholders and Cut Them for Companies