“I first came across the phrase “strong convictions, weakly held” through Marc Andreessen, but a bit of Googling showed me it was originally coined by Paul Saffo, then Director of the Palo Alto Institute for the Future. According to this post he advised his people to think this way for three reasons:
•It is the only way to deal with an uncertain future and still move forward
•Because weak opinions don’t inspire confidence or action, or even the energy required to test them
•Because becoming too attached to opinions undermines your ability to see and hear evidence that clashes with your opinion (confirmation bias)
Saffo came up with this logic almost 15 years ago, and as change happens faster and faster it has become increasingly compelling, to the extent that the importance of having “strong convictions, weakly held” is starting to become somewhat of a cliche amongst many of the best investors I know.
However, it applies to the whole startup world, not just investing. In fact it applies to anyone who is (or should be) searching for the truth, or more properly the closest approximation we can get to it. Much of the time in startups we have to make decisions based on minimal information in an environment that is fast moving and where there is no objectively ‘right’ answer. The best we can do is form an opinion based on the facts in front of us and then have the courage to act on that opinion. Then, and this is often the most difficult bit, we must find the courage to change our opinion if new information suggests we were wrong.”
Nick Brisbourne here.
“Strong opinions, weakly held,” is a suitable mantra for the OSS industry (perhaps even the name, OSS). When so much around us is changing, it’s imperative that we consider other “right answers” isn’t it? And despite this, so much change is still underpinned by concepts that haven’t changed much at all.
I’m currently doing some work on an orchestration project. Orchestration is the big new thing. Everyone is talking orchestration, service catalogs, etc. Nobody refers to flow-through provisioning anymore… And yet, all of the concepts that make up next generation orchestration appear to be almost identical to the flow-through provisioning solutions I first configured back in 2000. But I’m also completely open to hearing about the new innovations that make orchestration more repeatable, allowing engineers to configure new or modified services far more quickly.
When it comes to orchestration (and so many other aspects of OSS), I have strong opinions, weakly held.Read the Passionate About OSS Blog for more or Subscribe to the Passionate About OSS Blog by Email