The Value Of Helping Implement The Advice We Give: Automation and Algorithms

Let’s be honest: implementing a process that doesn’t result in an immediate reward is really hard. Sometimes, it can be downright crippling. Eat the broccoli, lift the weight, save the dollar – it’s all, as the poet/philosopher Iggy Pop once proclaimed, “No fun my babe, no fun.”  Anyone in the services profession will recognize the double challenge of not only solving a problem but then also solving for any implementation issues our clients might face. Hard for them = our chance to create value. 


One simple method we can use is to look for an automation or an algorithm based solution. We’ll use a diet and savings example to explain each. These simple tools help to reduce “the benefits to brain damage ratio.”


Automation: Make the decision itself automatic. Decide, in advance, so choice in real time can’t become an obstacle. If it’s a diet – set up a meal plan so there is no decision making on what to eat. If it’s an attempt to increase savings – automate a fixed dollar amount transfer from checking to saving weekly/monthly/etc. Automation allows us to set up a system that we can tweak later if necessary. 


Algorithm: Make the decision process automatic.  Decide on the process to limit choice from becoming an obstacle (noticing a theme?). Often times when a fixed rule can’t be applied, a similar variable rule can be. If it’s a diet that demands “more vegetables,” we can decide 2/3rds of any meal must be “green.” That way, even if out to eat, the ratio sets the decision. If it’s forced savings, we might say “50% of the excess funds in checking after paying all bills is sent to savings.” That way, whether it’s $100 or $1,000, we’ve committed to “half goes to savings.” The easier the algorithm the better. 


Implementing is always the hard part. If we recognize that it’s the extra stress of having to make a choice again that’s tripping people up, whether they’re breaking the diet or abandoning the savings plan in the 11th hour, we can use automation and algorithms to de-risk the process. This is all about creating habits. As professionals, helping with implementation is where we ensure the advice we give has its desired impact.

Diets, savings – these things are hard. A process we can roll downhill is better than one we have to push uphill. Relieve the current stress by using implementation automations and algorithms to stave off future stress. There’s much more value in the advice actually followed.