Chasing the easier outcome

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Difficulty versus tidying your home office

Rebuilding a development server locally is not fun, especially when you have no real expertise in that area. As a direct result my home office is cleaner than it has been in a while. I even got the dev server to work in the end.

No-one likes frustrating tasks at the edge of their competence, and they are even less attractive if no-one else will ever see the result. They cost time and energy and feel like trying to sculpt marble with your face. There is always something easier to do that at least looks like achievement. This behaviour is not limited to individuals: organisations and governments have been known to indulge too.

It is easier to develop a social media strategy than it is to be a brand worth talking about. It is easier to start buying traffic than it is to build and write for search and it is always easier to cut costs than it is to increase revenue. In the end, the choices that are made are shaped on how and by whom the performance of the decision makers is judged.

People will optimise for whatever actions lead to the most rewards. This behaviour can be seen in everything from games to politics. In MMORPGs players often do dull, boring tasks simply to get the best stuff, even when it’s not the most efficient way to get these rewards, and this trend of people acting in a way counter to their own interests to maximise an arbitrary reward is common.

Creating a development server no-one will ever see does help streamline redoing a site, and creating an amazing product and interesting content can actually pay off. However, if the reporting cycle is short and your metrics are tied to a sharp rise in numbers, maybe buying banner spots, mass following users on Twitter, or creating a ‘Top ten…’ or ‘Death of…’ blog post will serve your interests better.

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