New Knowledge vs Productivity

Update: 08/22/2007: add references to J curve

I can get task X done using knowledge I already have. I would take longer if I used a technique that I don't currently know.

However, if I learned a new technique I might complete task Y so fast that the slowdown on task X is insignificant.

This is the balance of the J curve. The J idea proposes that your productivity remains flat until you learn something new. At the beginning of your learning your productivity decreases until your skills are sufficient to surpass your original productivity.

The amount we produce is related to our current position on the J's learning curve and the number of J's in our past.

So, worst case, you could imagine living on the downward slant of the J forever. There is always something new to learn after all, why produce when you can learn. I guess pure research organizations work like this.

The other worst case, is never entering the J. Living your life with a static set of knowledge.

OK, so how often should we dive into the J?

Life needs to exist,
In a rising J,
With every day,
Finding another rise.

If the bad poetry doesn't make sense then consider learning 5 things at once and every day push one of your tracks past the base of the curve.

Growth ends with the belief that you will be less productive by learning.

Do something new today, even if it hurts. Oh, and it will hurt.


Meilir Page-Jones: The Productivity Curve

Gerry Weinberg: quoted as part of his pinball analog

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