Monday, August 8, 2022

The asymmetry of value

I've written a couple of books on project value; you can see the book covers at the end of this blog.
One of my themes in these books is a version of cybernetics:
Projects are transformative of disparate inputs into something of greater value. More than a transfer function, projects fundamentally alter the collective value of resources in a cybernetics way: the value of the output is all but undiscernible from an examination of inputs

But this posting is about asymmetry. Asymmetry is a different idea than cybernetics

"Value" is highly asymmetrical in many instances, without engaging cybernetics. One example cited by Steven Pinker is this:

Your refrigerator needs repair. $500 is the estimate. You groan with despair, but you pay the bill and the refrigerator is restored. But would you take $500 in cash in lieu of refrigeration? I don't know anyone who would value $500 in cash over doing without refrigeration for a $500 repair.

Of course there is the 'availability' bias that is also value asymmetrical:

"One in hand is worth two in the bush"

And there is the time displacement asymmetry:

The time-value of money; present value is often more attractive than a larger future value. The difference between them is the discount for future risk and deferred utility.
Let's not forget there is the "utility" of value:
$5 is worth much less to a person with $100 in their pocket than it is to a person with only $10

How valuable?
So when someone asks you "how valuable is your project", your answer is ...... ?


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