Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Success Equation

We love to explain why something happened. The problem is, our explanations often have no basis in fact. For example, when the market rises or falls, a number of explanations are offered up as to why...but how do we know they're real? When a pro-sports team wins a game, reporters chalk it up to the winning team having superior grit, intensity and desire. Are they right? How do we know?

Unfortunately, these narratives are often wrong because they gloss over an element that plays a large role in regulating outcomes in the short-term: luck. In The Success Equation, Michael Mauboussin does his best to untangle the luck from the skill, to help us improve our decision-making processes.

There isn't a whole lot of primary research in the book, from what I could tell. Instead, it is a synthesis of a wide range of research on the topic that spans sports and investing. If you read on these topics, you will no doubt recognize a lot of the researchers Mauboussin cites and discusses including Daniel Kahneman, Bill James, Nassim Taleb, Amos Tversky, Michael Lewis, and John Maynard Keynes. If you've read the works of these guys, you might find the book somewhat repetitive.

On the other hand, if you're a fan of the topic, you'll get a number of ideas for other books you'll want to read, as the breadth of research cited in this book is wide! Personally, I'm inspired to read the book Everything Is Obvious as a result of some points from the book that Mauboussin discusses.

I do recommend The Success Equation. But don't take my word for it, as the book also comes highly recommended by Howard Marks and James Montier, both of whom are frequently discussed on this blog and in the value investing world. Enjoy!


John said...

Is this book simply an expansion of a chapter from Mauboussin's "More than you know"?

How much more insight does it add beyond "More than you know"?

Saj Karsan said...

I don't know as I haven't read that one.

John said...

I highly recommend "More than you know". In my library, it sits next to Security Analysis.

Bob Howe said...

I've been meaning to read The Success Equation for a while now, Mauboussin is a great writer.