Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reactions

Definitions

We can find some definitions for a reaction. In chemistry, reaction is defined as ”Reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another.” When we talk about human reactions we can define it as ”Something done, felt, or thought in response to a situation or event.

Reactions have many orders of effects

Sometimes it is easy to see the effects on a reaction. One reaction may cause a chain of reactions where all of the outcomes are very hard to notice. Any action or behavior has many positive or negative effects or consequences. All the action we take should have more positive effects on us than negative. This doesn´t happen all the time. When we are making decisions, we should try to understand all the effects they have on our lives and to the other people and our environment. Most of the people concentrate on the first order of reactions or consequences, but it is too simple. In almost any decisions, there are some consequences of the consequences and we shouldn´t ignore them.

Lets think about practicing a skill. We can assume that positive effect is we get better, when the practice is done well. We can also assume that when we start from a scratch, we start enjoying the practice more, which is the positive side-effect. The negative side-effect of the first order positive side-effect may be that when we get better, we may need better equipment, which costs money. The Negative effect of practicing a skill may be the need to hire a coach to learn the basics of the particular skill, which costs money. This may have a positive side-effect of learning the skill faster than learning on your own.

Reactions have delays

One reason why people make mistakes in finding causes for some reactions is they see some consequences which are actually consequences of the consequences of things happening way before they can be seen. For example, some doctor prescribes some medicine for the pain in the back of a patient. This will relieve some pain, and a patient may feel fine for a while until the pain comes back even stronger. I am no doctor, but to me this looks like a situation where the real cause could be something like a wrong way of sitting in front of the computer and the effect of the real cause was delayed or formed through time.

The more complicated or bigger the system is the longer the delay can be. For example, most of the countries that have dominated the world with their military or through trading have eventually lost their position. The real causes are hidden beneath the surface of things looking very well, and it may take decades before the position is lost. When we treat the symptoms, things may look good for a while. But the underlying problems are still there and after the delay the symptoms may be lot worse.

A complicated world has many unintended reactions

We can think about the effects of the effects of reactions, but there will still be some unintended consequences. We live in a complicated world where it is hard to see how everything relates to each other. Even the smartest of us cannot see every cause-effect relationship in their lives. We should keep this in our minds when we are thinking about the consequences of some things we want to do. We should never be so sure about our actions whatever we are doing. For example, developing a habit of working hard for your physical appearance. This can have an unintended consequence of having an unhealthy relationship with food or not spending enough time in recovering phase of your performance cycle, which can cause serious injuries or health problems. The unintended consequences are always there. Most of them do not need serious consideration, but some of them do. For example, in buying some cheap items they do not normally matter, but they probably matter in the expensive ones.

When our latticework of mental models is good, we can find some interactions of the consequences better than without a proper latticework. If we only have some separate mental models, we cannot prepare for the consequences as well as we can with the proper latticework. Improving mental models and understanding their interactions better will give us a competitive advantage.

Sources:

Poor Charlie´s Almanack, Peter Kaufmann, Charles T. Munger
The Fifth Discipline, Peter M. Senge
Early Retirement Extreme, Jacob Lund Fisker

-TT

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