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Sustainable Value-Creation and Psychological Hacks

A few years back, my wife encouraged me to set up an Instagram.

Everyone has one, FB is dead. This is the new way to connect with people!

So… I entered I was a 20-something male and immediately was bombarded by images and videos I wouldn’t want my kids to see.

I went to delete my account, but wife told me I just needed to spend time to train the algorithm. So, after hundreds of “Not Interested, Block, Mute” actions, I finally started getting access to what I was interested in - funny memes about kids and updates from the people I care about.

Dave Farley (explores CI/CD - definitely look into his work!), shared this article with me, which explores how Google performed a multivariate test across 41 different shades of blue to identify which resulted in more clicks.

Why does Google care? More clicks means more revenue, and every little hack to increase your engagement by 0.5% means more cash in their pocket, and their stakeholders laud them for being “effective”.

The problem with being “data-centric” like this is we forget to be human-centric. Even though it increases engagement, revenue, and happy stakeholders, we are destroying tomorrow’s value. Hence, YouTube promotes ever more extreme content, TikTok causes entire afternoons to disappear, and Instagram stereotypes 20-something males.

In the end, ethical value-creation is about solving pains, reducing limitations, and encouraging personal growth. That builds value today, and it builds value tomorrow. It’s sustainable. Psychology-based, “data-driven” manipulation is not.


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