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Ep 467: David Burkus Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following

David Burkus

David Burkus

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Michael and David Burkus start off talking about Fredrick Winslow Taylor. Fredrick’s claim to fame is discovering that it isn’t about innovating a product, but rather about innovating the factory. He looked into factory processes and what it took to make a product most effectively. The downside of his work was that he believed management should be operated scientifically as well. He thought that management was smart and factory workers were dumb. His values helped people focus on how to make a product most efficiently not how to make people sustainable, prolific and healthy. He took a lot of the emotion out of it. Most of his work has shifted from the United States and moved to other more factory driven places such as China.

The new form of work that we are seeing in most countries is creative work. Employees are required to make decisions or make collective designs with people in their company. Michael asks, “Isn’t this about making employees feel like entrepreneurs in their company or organization?” David uses tech start-ups as examples; Even as they get big they aim to make their companies continue to feel like a start-up and train their employees to think like solo entrepreneurs. This is how trust and intellect gets built within a company.

Next, Michael and David discuss the effectiveness of email. Pros: The cost of email is cheap and you can respond on your own schedule. Cons: Constant text and emails have diverted focus and created too much distraction. David stresses that there is no such thing as “multitasking”, there is only task switching. Some studies say it could take up to 15 minutes to get back to the focus you were at before you were interrupted.

Michael and David move the discussion back to the importance of keeping your employees happy. Having outstanding customer satisfaction comes down to putting employees first. Sometimes that means siding with your employees over your customers. You need to be able to tell some customers that your company or product simply may not be right for them. Also, creating the right work environment is key. Open work environments as opposed to more closed work environments have been becoming the norm. In an open office environment the idea is that working together is easy and creates a better collaborative environment. However there are negative effects such as increased sick days (perhaps because they do not want to see certain co-workers) and more distraction.

Michael and David finish talking about non-compete clauses and the counter productiveness of them. There is a difference between a non-compete and a non-disclosure. Apple and Google have two totally different views on this. Google is 100% fluid and open. Apple is very closed off and believes in the non-compete clause. When people migrate from one company to another, it has been shown in studies that both companies actually win from the intellectual knowledge transferred and gained from each other. Non-compete environments benefit everyone in the long term. Also, on a societal level you can see a huge benefit when non-competes are not allowed.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Re-designing the factory
  • Physical labor vs. Intellectual labor
  • Machines vs. Man
  • Multitasking = Task switching
  • “The customer is always right” mentality
  • Confirmation bias
  • Introverts and extroverts
  • Customer service
  • Non-compete clauses

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