Tim Harford's Arguing Advice

Tim Harford joined Tyler Cowen to speak about his career, production function, and why dice are something he couldn’t live without. Harford said this about debates:

“I still think debating is underrated. People think that it’s a very elite thing, practiced by elite people from very posh schools and very privileged backgrounds and favors a certain kind of education. Those things are all true. At the same time, in a debate you are protected by certain rules, given space and time, and people are not allowed to interupt you except in certain formalized ways.

“Once I became an adult, and entered certain corporate spaces and corporate meetings, I became aware that all the old men were talking all over the young women. They’d interupt and wouldn’t let these younger people get a word in edgewise. I realized that debating protects anyone.”

Tim Harford

A contest has explicit rules. A culture has implicit rules.

For organizations to ‘argue Zell‘, they must have leaders willing to be challenged and leaders who communicate that. Career risk depends on the culture.

Like strategy, marketing, or ethics, culture is something organziations do. “Unless you set it, it’ll just be what it is.” The easiest way to create a specific culture is to hire well. After that, incentives matter.