Monkeys and Pedestals

A model for thinking about a moon shot project. Assume you want to put a show on where you train a monkey to juggle chainsaws while standing on a pedestal. The hard part of this work, the entertainment value, is in the monkey training. However, people often solve the easiest part of the project, in this example, building the pedestal as a show of progress on the project. Building the pedestal does nothing for the hard part, neither makes progress nor tells you how you will progress on the hard part. So when working on a hard, high-value project are you working on the pedestal or training the monkey?1


Duke, A. Mental models to help you cut your losses. at (2022).