The Rebrandening: 10footinvestor and Infinite Nuance
10footinvestor has changed.
My two personal blogs, 10footinvestor and Infinite Nuance, have merged.
The 10footinvestor site began life in February 2017 as a personal investing blog where I could research and share ideas. In the first two years, 10footinvestor published roughly once a week about stocks, investment ideas, and portfolio reviews. Most early posts were of poor quality, but later pieces identified issues with companies like Trimantium Growthops, Henry Morgan & John Bridgeman, and Updater, all of which subsequently delisted.
As research continued, the blog looked at UK capital requirements, South American online travel agents, and made suggestions on brand presentation to Oliver’s. There was even a remaster of Rudyard Kipling’s If-, adapted for modern financial audiences.
That old blog covered a lot of territory, but it fell into disrepair as work commitments grew.
Infinite Nuance was a separate blog created to refine thoughts about management and the practise of managing. I partly encapsulated those thoughts in this post here. It is administratively complex to manage two sites and I wasn’t keen on working on two sites in parallel.
It seemed better to put the sites together, and let readers filter for themselves. A shortage of maintenance effort and SSL certificates caused 10footinvestor to be penalised by browsers & Google. My newfound interest in business and management took the content outside the realm of investment analysis.
All of these things, put together, necessitated a big refresh.
The New Site
All 10footinvestor posts have been migrated to this site, and the content has been divided into two broad categories, Investing, and Management. You can read whatever interests you, and I’ll still share it on Twitter as usual (my Twitter handle will stay as 10footinvestor).
For posterity, this is the original 10footinvestor site, created using the deprecated Bhari theme:
A moment’s silence for 10footinvestor
10footinvestor started off as a throwaway blog; an anonymous place to practise investing without fear of failure. Selecting a name was difficult; there were already too many investor blogs. One day I was sharing some thoughts on Genworth Mortgage Insurance when, in response, my then-colleague Mike King misquoted Buffett “remember, we are looking for 1 foot hurdles to step over, not 10 foot hurdles to jump over”.
It was a throwaway name for a throwaway blog. But then Mike came back to work early, unwell, from a skiiing holiday. He tragically died a few weeks later from an aggressive, undetected brain cancer. The name stuck.
Separately, some research I did on a company called Henry Morgan had taken on a life of its own (more on that can be found here) and 10foot, regrettably, had an audience.
It was tedious to explain what a 10footinvestor was (eventually people stopped asking) and that site has more than done its duty. When work intensified, rather than retire, 10footinvestor retreated into the chrysalis. It now emerges as Infinite Nuance.
So, what manner of beast is this?
Infinite Nuance, which sounded a lot better than 51 Shades Of Grey
Infinite Nuance focuses on the way the world really works. Many paths, not one. In the course of managing (investments or people), the typical process involves thousands upon thousands of iterative, incremental micro-decisions.
A previous role involved training a team of new analyst-authors to write code & algorithmic articles from scratch, and it was critical that they got up to speed fast. Typical micro-decisions in the early days were around “should I step in to help here? Are they only slightly stuck and are likely to figure it out themselves, thereby learning faster?” or “are they stuck enough to need to be given the solution, or should I just give a suggestion or a small part of the solution?”
The question was rarely “should I help or not”, instead it was always around “what degree of help should I provide”. Which and when and how much, not yes or no. Over time the decisions required were less interventionist and revolved more around refining the way we worked. “How much is the right amount of oversight to have of this project, taking into account its importance, this person’s skills, experience, & interests, the expected outcomes, and how should the level of oversight change as the project progresses?”.
Optimising for autonomy and creativity seems like a no-brainer, but these concepts are rubber-banded. The right mix changes based on the situation and there is nuance in deciding how much of X is probabilistically ideal given the desired objectives. It is then complicated to execute on that decision without micromanaging, or violating the “human use of human people”.
Incremental, iterative decisionmaking
One way I visualise these infinite layers of nuance is via a “gauge” or “dial” concept.
In life and work the questions are almost never “should we set this dial to 0, or 10”. Instead they will invariably be “this dial is on 6.5, do we need to turn it to 7 to reach our goals, especially taking into account that something else will go from 1 to 0 in the interim?”.
Another way I conceptualise of this nuance is as half a compass, laid out in front of you. You can only go forward in time. If you are proceeding towards a goal, the questions are always around “perhaps we should turn another 5 degrees right” or “we need a sharp course correction here”. This assumes that you are facing the right way to begin with, but in my experience, people naturally point themselves in roughly the right direction.
These, of course, are imperfect metaphors; the simplification of complex concepts into physical space to make them understandable. We are applying a round hole to a square peg.
Real companies are like neural networks moving in 3D space in real time – six axes if not more.
Which and when and where and how much?
Infinite Nuance is about these things, and how they fit into business, management, and life. So, 10footinvestor re-emerges as Infinite Nuance. Infinite Nuance is a site about investing, business, and management.
To co-opt a common phrase, if you are not selling a product, you are the product.
And that, I guess, is the story of this blog.
Thanks for reading,