Celebrating the Power of 2

In fee-earning professions where the go-it-alone attitude is often rewarded, the power of two can be severely undervalued. The unstoppable force of 2, the partnership of 1 + 1, and the secret sauce that helps many game-changing endeavours survive and thrive in finance, tech or war can be overlooked.

The capacity of two checks, two supporting systems, two perspectives can improve daily work life immeasurably. Moving from a solo endeavour to the beginning of a team is game-changing. The doubled-up strength, creative feedback loops that ensue and complementary skillsets often pack a superior punch compared to the progressive single person, the brave individual or the stubborn-headed lonely mindset.

Something magic happens when there is suddenly more than one. Going from 1 to 2 has a vast impact compared to growing from 2 to 3. And what a better time to celebrate it than at 22:22hrs 22-2-22. Here we explore examples of ‘2 power’ in finance, technology, travels and battles. From a software perspective, today technology can achieve winning human-and-machine combinations (see Gary Kasparov’s thinking below). Much of this also applies to real estate brokers and investment companies which often avoid the extra ‘2nd step’, the extra ounce of effort that can bring institutional Quality Assurance to the world of Discounted Cash Flows (‘DCF’).

Where do we see the power of 2?

Take a look at the Start-up world. VC investors like to invest in teams with at least 2 co-founders. Key-person risk is immediately slashed in half. Like any investors, Investment Committees don’t like risking having all their ‘eggs in one basket’.

Or consider the age old profession of Accounting derived from the renaissance invention of double-entry booking-keeping attributed to Francesco di Marco Datini. This novel innovation was based on every entry being made twice – this additional *yet minor* effort of booking everything twice makes it far easier to detect mistakes.

Strategic double-prongs are infamous in war and strategy games. For example, the double-check in Chess (annotation symbol: ‘++’) is when the King piece is checked by two pieces simultaneously. It is an immensely stronger attack than a single check, and gives the respective player a higher degree of control and visibility of where their rival can move next.

EXAMPLE 01

Historic accounting innovation

The simplicity of 2 entries in double-entry book-keeping makes complex business possible. This novel innovation was based on every entry being made twice – whereby the extra effort of recording everything twice makes it far easier to detect mistakes.

EXAMPLE 02

Wingman superiority

More power and range: we cannot avoid a nod in advance of Top Gun Maverick movie in 2022….In military flying terms, the number two or Top Gun “wingman” role is essential support for aerial combat. It makes a flight both safer and more capable: amplifying situational awareness, increasing firepower, and allowing more dynamic tactics. It is a game-changer compared to flying alone in risky and hostile environments.

EXAMPLE 03

Double-prong attacks

More control over future events: the double-check in chess gives a player more control over their rivals’ possible next moves.

EXAMPLE 04

Business agility in pair-coding

Higher quality in less time: the godfathers of the Agile manifesto reveal that one of the most productive methods of coding (and checking for mistakes) is by a team of two working side-by-side called pair-coding. E.g. one can write, while the other can control the mouse and review logic, spelling and technique in real time.

EXAMPLE 05

Essential excess power: two jet engines

Always better safe than sorry: Commuter jets can continue their journey with one jet engine if the other fails completely. This is a significant margin of error safety, and is the difference between falling out of the skies or landing in a civil fashion!

EXAMPLE 06

Human+machine wins

Unbeatable combination: while tech boffins live in hope for human-intelligent AI, there is a certainty for business today: an average-skilled human working with an average computer will always beat the smartest person or the most powerful computer working alone.

And what happens when the Power of 2, and the simple double-checks elude us?

COVID-19 REPORTED CASES SPREADSHEET ERROR

Photo credit: Sky News

During COVID, the UK government experienced a highly-embarrassing mistake in its handling of recorded cases. They simply used a spreadsheet with too few rows like Excel ’95 which has a limit of 16,000 rows – when evidently more rows were required for reporting cases across the country.

In a recent survey, half reported that companies’ processes were not capable of spotting the errors in financial templates they had constructed for their firms.

We find that the power of two eyes, two checks, automated or manually, has many benefits for the financial sector:

Tim Hartford wrote an excellent account of the above UK spreadsheet error in the Financial Times: the Tyranny of Spreadsheets. Many indeed feel exasperated by the potential complexity of man-made spreadsheets but -also- they tend to offer no solution(s). While Blackbox software may automate inputs and outputs, they never offer the simple financial transparency that illustrates the mathematical proof of DCFs. At the risk of needing a spoiler-alert to Hartford’s above article, Bill Gates keeps a very cool head. He simply says the easiest way to avoid appalling errors is to ensure you double-check the spreadsheet.

We return to the power of 2 again. We believe in the provision of Quality Assurance tools for the real estate and finance industry. Solutions that help real estate fund managers, investors, advisors, brokers, JV partners and lenders double-check immediately, safely and rigorously ‘the numbers’ produced for a property investment. Numbers often come from a trusted and professional colleague, but like the rest of us – he/she/they are simply human and prone to errors which can be addressed with a simple double-check and 2 reassuring answers.

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