Under the hood

Observing and recreating systems is fun.

I enjoy trying to figure out how things work and why they were built in the first place. A basic understanding helps me piece things together to figure out where things are headed. Albeit, not always correct as I’m prone to misjudgment.

As I was on the train today, commuting back from the city, I thought about a series of questions:

  • Who laid the tracks?
  • Who maintains the tracks?
  • How can I trust the bridge I’m about to go on is being checked and repaired consistently?
  • Who cleans the trains every day?
  • How much effort does it take to become a ticket checker?
  • Who’s ‘driving’ the train? Can I trust them?
  • Who designs schedules for trains and are they optimized?
  • Why does a train from Newark airport to NY Penn Station cost the same as from MetroPark to NY Penn even though the distance is much less?
  • Have train speeds increased in the past 20 years? Why or why not?
  • What are all the ways I can avoid paying the fare?

Underlying each of the above questions is a job-to-be-done or a business that’s responsible for optimally delivering a product or service.

The problem-solving journey:

  1. Realizing the problems
  2. Creating incentives to solve them
  3. Searching for elegant solutions

In case you were wondering, this is what I’m thinking about while I’m on the train. Constantly questioning, searching online, and running thought experiments.

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