The Effect of Multiplying by Zero

Are You In An Additive System Where A Zero Will Make No Incremental Difference, Or A Multiplicative System Where It Could Wipe You Out?

Splashlearn

Multiplying By Zero - Overview

We are all familiar with multiplying by zero from our early school days. Multiply any number by zero and the answer is always zero. e.g. 3 x 0 = 0

No matter how large the number the result is always zero. e.g. 1,256,986 x 0  = 0

You can multiply a whole string of numbers in a series of steps of multiplication and if one of those numbers is zero then the result is zero.e.g. 6 x 82 x 0 x 5438 = 0



  • In a multiplication equation each number is entirely dependent on the number it is being multiplied by.
  • Thus a zero in the equation wipes out the whole total.
  • Think of this as a multiplicative system where all parts are entirely dependent on each other.
  • A multiplicative system is no stronger than its weakest component.
  • If ANY one part fails, ALL fail.



In The Weakest Link in the Chain Shane Parrish says:

"Suppose you were trying to become the best basketball player in the world. You’ve got the following things going for you:

1. God-given talent. You’re 6’9″, quick, skillful, can leap out of the building, and have been the best player in a competitive city since you can remember.

2. Support. You live in a city that reveres basketball and you’re raised by parents who care about your goals.

3. A proven track record. You were the player of the year in a very competitive Division 1 college conference.

4. A clear path forward. You’re selected as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.

Sounds like you have a shot, right? As good as anyone could have, right? What would you put the odds at of this person becoming one of the better players in the world? Pretty high?

Let’s add one more piece of information:

5. You’ve developed a cocaine habit.

What are your odds now?

This little exercise isn’t an academic one, it’s the sad case of Leonard “Len” Bias, a young basketball prodigy who died of a cocaine overdose after being selected to play in the NBA for the Boston Celtics in 1986. Many call Bias the best basketball player who never played professionally.

What the story of Len Bias illustrates so well is the truth that anything times zero must still be zero, no matter how large the string of numbers preceding it. In some facets of life, all of your hard work, dedication to improvement, and good fortune may still be worth nothing if there is a weak link in the chain."






Additive Systems

In an additive system:

  • Each number adds to [or subtracts from] the number it is being applied to. e.g. 2 + 9 -3 = 8
  • The total is increased by the number that is added to it [or reduced by a subtraction].
  • A zero in the equation makes no difference and the total is unchanged.
  • All parts are not dependent on each other [and are only increased by the number added to them, or decreased by the number subtracted].
  • Change is incremental and NOT a binary win/lose






Why Does This Matter?

Many businesses fail to make the distinction and assume they are in additive system where piling on new innovations and making changes to the operating model will lead to improvements, whereas in-fact they are in a multiplicative model where the success of the business is dependent on complete reliability and good performance from all components and if they fail in one - for example customer service - regardless of the innovations and changes, they will fail in all.

Similarly at the individual level you may have many things going for you in your personal or working life, but it you have one significant weakness - for example your interpersonal skills are poor - then it will impede your progress in either or both areas of your life.

So in each scenario, multiplying by zero will [over time] wipes out the entire effort and leads to total failure.



The key take away is to be very clear whether you're in an additive system where a zero will make no incremental difference or a multiplicative system where it could wipe you out!








Return from "Multiplying By Zero" to: Mental Models








Chinese (Traditional)EnglishFrenchGermanItalianRussianSpanishVietnamese


Custom Site Search


The Balanced Toolkit



The Balanced Life



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:

LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power

    "Your ego's desire to be in control, your ego usurping the role of your higher self, disconnects you from your true source of power." A stone of help is a constant reminder to stay connected to your…

    Read More

  2. Dying To Self - To Gain All Give All

    "If You Want To Be Given Everything - Give Everything Up". “Tao Te Ching” Your ego is essential and does a wonderful job of running things for you and marshalling your mental and emotional resources t…

    Read More

  3. My Experience Of Mindfulness In Situations Of Imposed Change

    I found that the biggest key to all this is to behave and respond in ways that may seem completely alien to you by cultivating a very deep acceptance of what is. Many years ago my fortunes had change…

    Read More

  4. The Balanced Life

    The Key To Keeping Your Balance Is Knowing When You Lost It. The balanced life is one where you recognise the full spectrum of possible responses and have develop sufficient experience, insight and se…

    Read More

  5. Self Motivation - How To Motivate Yourself In Tough Times

    Our focus here is going to be on the heavy duty / big picture level motivation that you need to get you through tough times often involving imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts…

    Read More

  6. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    Think of your conscious mind as a ship floating on the ocean of your subconscious mind, and above is the sky of your higher consciousness. When things are tough and you are starting to think that no…

    Read More

  7. How Can I Change My Mind?

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. Your mind is either working for you or, more typically, working against you. There is a part of your mind that is very happy with h…

    Read More

  8. Managing Personal Change Is Hard - Here's How You CAN Make It Work

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. You can waste years of your life (as I have done) and spend a fortune in various forms of introspection, analysis and therapy diggi…

    Read More

  9. Change Comes From Within

    "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." For much of my life I didn't understand that change comes from within, I used to believe that change wa…

    Read More

  10. How Things Are - The Inbuilt Design Flaw

    This is the nature of things. This is how things are. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health, o…

    Read More




Support This Site