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Coordination as a Scarce Resource - LessWrong

author:: lesswrong.com

Full Title:: Coordination as a Scarce Resource - LessWrong

Highlights first synced by Readwise June 25th, 2022

When I think of people whose main job is to solve coordination problems, here are some occupations which spring to mind:Entrepreneurs’ main job is to coordinate salespeople, engineers, designers, marketers, investors, customers, regulators, suppliers, shippers, etc…Managers’ main job is to coordinate between their bosses, underlings, and across departmentsInvestment bankers coordinate between investors, companies, lawyers, and a huge number of people within each of those organizationsReal estate developers coordinate between builders, landowners, regulators, renters, and investorsNote that all of these are occupations typically associated with very high pay. Even more to the point: within each of these occupations, people who solve more complicated coordination problems (e.g. between more people) tend to make more money. Even at the small end, the main difference between an employee and a freelancer is that the freelancer has to solve their own coordination problem (i.e. find people who want their services); freelancers make lots of money mainly when they are very good at solving this problem.


What Would This Model Predict?One prediction: suppose I’ve decided to become a freelancer/consultant. I can invest effort in becoming better at my object-level craft, or I can invest effort in becoming better at solving my coordination problem - e.g. by exploring marketing channels or studying my target market. Which of these will make more money? Probably the latter - coordination constraints are very taut, so there’s lots of money to be made by relaxing them.


I often hear people they’d like object-level skill/effort to be rewarded more than marketing/sales, or they’d like to see less pressure to standardize behavior, or they’d like the world to be more individualized and identity to be less group-based. To the extent that we buy the picture here, all of these phenomena are solutions to coordination problems. Society rewards marketing over object-level skill, and tries to standardize behavior, because coordination constraints are extremely taut.If we want the world to look less like that, then we need alternative scalable technologies to solve coordination problems.