Tuesday, December 21, 2021



“I did not know that I would make 10 years’ worth of decisions in 10 weeks.”

This is how Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb summed up his experience while navigating the company through the pandemic. Airbnb's core business was hit almost unannounced and as a response the CEO made more changes, including cutting marketing, putting many non-core projects on hold and laying off a quarter of the staff.

As Chesky explained in a message to employees these decisions weren't taken a reckless manner and followed rigorous prioritization. One approach that Chesky and his team followed caught my attention. No rocket science here, it was an age-old problem solving approach.

After Co-founders relinquished their salaries, cut exec pay in half, cut ~$1 billion in marketing expenses, they simply when through hundreds/thousands of expense items “line by line.” and made numerous micro-decisions.
(Source: https://on.wsj.com/3A3gT2Q may be behind paywall)

More often than we would like to acknowledge, problem solving requires laborious hard-work, maniacal attention to details and rigorous prioritization. And no fancy creativity tools.

A similar analogy from the world of sports. Andre Agassi (former Tennis Grand Slam Champion and World#1) in an interview revealed an interesting anecdote around how he managed to beat Boris Becker after being beaten by him 3 times in a row. Agassi, despite his best efforts, wasn't able to read his service. Then, he intensely watched all the videos and analyzed. It lead him to a crucial insight. He realized that just as Becker was about to toss the ball he would stick his tongue out to the side he was going to serve. In all future matches, he could judge where the ball was going to land, just by looking at his tongue.
[Source: https://bit.ly/2X9wOej]

Similar to Chesky, the act of painfully going through videos and observing minute details, led Agassi to find key to success against Becker in his prime.

What are the the few other problem solving approaches ?

Check this article https://bit.ly/2P80gNi by Ashok Thiruvengadam on some effective insights into his methods (catch the summary in my sketchnote)

What are your favorite problem solving approaches ?

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