...when we have trouble categorizing something, we’ll often overlook it or misjudge it. This is one of the reasons that Beane avoids what he calls “gut-feel” decisions. (The Signal and the Noise. 2013.)
In short, Beane developed an elaborate system and a large number of explicit categories that his brain could rationally handle instead of relying on subconscious, gut-feel decisions. Using lots of categories enabled him to pick the right player among many candidates.
Where do people experience a similar problem? In "scouting" movies on Netflix! To help users solve the problem, Netflix engineers developed a detailed content categorization system with thousands of fine distinctions, so that people can select the right movie among lots of candidates. Here's an example of their movie subjects:
|Source: Alexis C. Madrigal. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood. The Atlantic. Jan 2, 2014.|
A couple of learning points:
- In Scalable Innovation (Chapter 5), we talk about the concept of "Aboutness" - an element that facilitates decision making in systems. The Netflix chart above would be a great way to show how generating movie aboutness helps solve detection problems for the users.
- "Gut-feel" decisions are a poor substitute for systematic thinking about the problem. Fundamentally, they are limited by our working memory and don't scale to handle complex choice situations.
tags: aboutness, problem, solution, detection, control, pattern