Grandmasters, Koch & Unconscious Bias

The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving

Suggested by Dr Anton Howes, historian of innovation

Chess grandmasters, it seems, can lose extraordinary amounts of weight when subjected to the stressful conditions of a tournament, burning up to 6,000 calories a day. The upshot is that at the very highest levels, things that would ordinarily seem minor for a sedentary sport – like diet, exercise, and energy levels – take on a huge significance.

For a top chess player like Magnus Carlsen, drinking chocolate milk instead of orange juice during a tournament can be the difference between winning and losing. The same goes for posture. When it comes to your fifth hour of play, it can make all the difference between burning out or still being fresh and alert. It’s the hour in which Carlsen tends to win. It shows that there’s always room for improvement, and that optimisation can really matter.

When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will

Suggested by Scott Craig, product manager at OneYearNoBeer

In Good Profit Charles Koch, one of the most successful and most unfairly maligned businessmen of our era, delivers a passionate and robust defence of free markets and an all-out attack on crony capitalism, which destroys value for consumers and damages people's faith in markets.

Charles successfully argues that the only way to profit over time in a system of voluntary exchange (a market) is by making others better off (as parties will not voluntarily enter an exchange unless both believe they will be better off). And that the only way to do that is to focus on understanding customers' unmet needs and finding ways to satisfy them better and faster than existing and potential competitors.

For Charles, the role of business in society is to provide products and services that customers value more than their best alternative, while more efficiently using resources than their competitors. If you can achieve that, then you will reap what he calls 'Good Profit'. Profit obtained by fair economic means. Profit of which you can be proud.

Diverse teams feel less comfortable — and that’s why they perform better

Suggested by Ben Fletcher, entrepreneur, sporadic investor and founder of Velocity²

To successfully scale your business, you need to have effective execution. Effective execution is just another way of saying that you make and implement the right decisions. There are lots of factors that feed into that - the quality of the people you hire, their access to information, the clarity with which you explain the objectives and aims of the company. But there's another key factor to consider: unconscious bias. Even if you hire people with the right skills, have crystal clear objectives and complete transparency, people will still make poor decisions sometimes.

The trouble with unconscious bias is just that: it's unconscious. However, you can create strategies to mitigate this bias and one of the best ways is to have a truly diverse workforce. Not just a box-ticking exercise where you hire some different genders and races, but truly diverse teams made up of people from different backgrounds.

People with different backgrounds have different experiences and expectations that means they would make different decisions presented with the same data. If you are inclusive and enable these voices to be heard and all the options carefully considered before a decision is taken, you can make better decisions.

However, there's a catch 22: people in diverse teams often feel the process of making a decision is laborious as there are different and dissenting voices: even though their decisions are better. (You can read more about how to be inclusive here.)

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