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Historical accounts

History is a story that we weave connecting several correlating facts in the most plausible manner. For instance, it is a fact that India attained independence from the British in August 1947. However, the reasons and causes as to why the British decided to grant India independence at that time is mostly conjecture as it is impossible to scientifically prove causation.

And for the purposes of understanding what happened such a long time ago, this is good enough an approach.

However, when operating companies, historical accounts aren't good enough.

In the case of a company, it is a fact that a certain metric moved in a certain direction and is currently at a certain value. However, explaining that movement after the fact is mostly conjecture as all we can do is draw hypotheses from correlations that we observe. If the movement in the metric correlates with the movement in one or a few others, we can draw hypotheses that by moving those other metrics in the future, we can move the metric we are concerned about in a direction that we want.

But, it is key to remember that these are only hypotheses and not scientifically proven fact. Yet, I see experienced product people make the mistake of treating this as fact and defining their product strategy around such historical accounts or stories.

Explaining history helps us make sense and draw hypotheses to plan future actions. But, they aren't evidence that can be relied upon to definitively act in a similar way and expect a similar consequence in the future.

In short, the stories we weave may not be repeatable. 

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