Jan 292008

A very important idea/mental model in life is the idea of production and production capacity. I first got this idea from Stephen Covey’s audiobook of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He used the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs (the production capacity) and the golden eggs it laid (the production), but I’ll simplify it using another common adage:

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

The desired result/production is for the man to be fed. In the first case, he is fed but you have to do it. So you get the production/result that you want. In the second case, the man learns to fish for himself, and you have improved his production capacity/result-creating capacity.

More examples (because examples help you understand things):

  • Say you have a child and you want a clean child’s room. You could do it yourself, but then the production capacity would be unaffected. The key is to get the child to clean the room, and you could bug the child until it does it just so you’ll stop bugging it, and you produce the result you want, but the child will not voluntarily clean the room, except out of fear. You have to find some way to get the child to happily clean the room.
  • I want to keep track of my finances. I could do it manually by keeping track of my receipts and my cash-in-pocket and just do the whole thing on paper. Or, I could make a slight improvement to my production capacity and upgrade to using a digital financial software, like Quicken, and then it can do a lot of this stuff automatically. I try to pay for as many things by debit as I can and carry as little cash with me as possible so that Quicken can simply download my transactions from my bank and automatically figure out a lot of where my money is coming and going.
  • Steve Pavlina spends a lot of time working on the production capacity that produces money for him, which is his blog.
  • I’ve been making back-end changes to the way this blog is run so that its easier for me to write posts or what have you. So, I improve my production capacity to produce blogs faster and easier.
  • When you are involved in personal development, you are usually engaged in a process of improving production capacity, unless you make growth the goal itself (as Steve Pavlina‘s done).

Main Point:

  • Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. When the desired production is for the man to be fed, you can gain the same production by giving him a fish every day, or by improving his ability to feed himself, which improves the production capacity.

  2 Responses to “A Very Important Idea”

  1. […] really learning. What you’re doing is improving certain skills and thus improving your production capacity. Thus, you’re learning how to solve problems better and improving your spatial skills, as […]

  2. […] as grades) but I’ll stick to money. I’ll be bringing together the distinction between production capacity and production, incentive/extrinsic motivation and the importance of big […]

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