Don’t be fooled by survivorship bias!
The headquarters of our company is in Hokkaido, the northern most area of Japan. The area is still the kingdom of brown bears. When I was a kid, my father often took me to rivers deep in the mountains to fish, always exploding firecrackers to avoid bears. He often told me “When you encounter a bear, don’t run, act dead.” It’s a kind of superstition widely believed here, but I always doubted it, saying to myself “How do we know that’s correct? We can’t listen to people who failed.” Later on, I learned it was survivorship bias. It is the reason why autobiographical books of successful people are good for nothing in most cases. Survivors survive because they just happened to survive fortunately. In most cases, success stories are difficult to be reproduced.
Things get soon forgotten
As this may sound a little strange, everytime seeing removal building sites, I remember survivorship bias. In order to enjoy commuting to work even if a little bit, I make it a rule to try to find something new on the way, something that I had not noticed until the day before. Although I always pay attention to the scenery on the commuting route like this, I forget removed buildings so quickly. Sometimes, I can’t even remember what was there. To put it simply, the open spaces make me remember the harsh reality: the world exists for survivors. There are many things disappearing with the times from the market. Rotary dial phones, VHS video tapes, etc., for example. In addition to those things, probably there should be something more that we can’t even remember.
Between joy and sorrow for innovations
Since around 2015, we have often heard the news about the technological progress of 3D printers. Now that they can even make most of the organs and also buildings, why not furniture? From the perspective of a general consumer, I was just excited by the news of the world’s largest 3D printed building in Dubai in 2019, for example. On the other hand, as a member of a furniture manufacturer, I can’t help but feel a little negative about the future outlook of our business. Most of the traditional manufacturers like us may be driven out of the market in the future. I just hope, however, some of our products will at least remain in people’s memory.
He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.
Photo Credit: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/13/warning-four-killed-bear-attacks-akita-japan