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How sheep-like behavior breeds innovation in Silicon Valley | @andrewchen

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The perils of “advice autopilot”

Advice autopilot is when you’re too lazy to think originally about a problem, instead regurgitate whatever smart thing you read on Quora or Hacker News. If you’re a bit more connected, instead you might parrot back what’s being spoken at during Silicon Valley events and boardrooms, yet the activity is still the same – everyone gets the same advice, regardless of situation. The problem is, the best advice rarely comes in this kind of format – instead, the advice will start out with “it depends…” and takes into account an infinite array of contextual and situational things that aren’t obvious. However, we are all lazy and so instead we go on autopilot, and do, read, say, and build, all the same things.

That’s not to say that sometimes generic advice isn’t good advice – sometimes it is, especially for noob teams who are working off an incomplete set of knowledge. Often you may not have the answers, but the questions can lead to interesting conversations. You may not be able to say “you should do an iPhone app” but it’s definitely useful to ask, “how does mobile fit into this?” This can help a lot.

The other manifestation of this advice autopilot is the dreaded use of “pattern matching” to recommend solutions and actions.

I agree: The best advice does start out with "it depends..."

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