[Link] 80,000 Hours 2018 annual review

post by Milan_Griffes · 2019-05-08T17:06:06.726Z · score: 23 (9 votes) · EA · GW · 6 comments

https://80000hours.org/2019/05/annual-review-dec-2018/

(archive)

The review doesn't really have an easy-to-excerpt summary.

They had an increase in high-impact career plan changes in 2018:

We’ve tracked over 130 rated-10 plan changes over our history, so we think our programmes can reliably produce this level of plan change.
Over 2018, we decided to focus on producing more rated-100 plan changes, which involve larger shifts into more senior positions, where we estimate they’ll approximately result in 10-times as much counterfactual impact.
Typically, when we ask donors and researchers in the community to place a number on the value of a 1-3 year speed up into one of these positions, they estimate these kinds of shifts are equivalent to over $1m in additional donations by the community. There are many issues with this method, but if our rated-100 plan changes indeed involve a speed up of this magnitude, it suggests they have value to the community of around this level.
We recorded ten new rated-100 plan changes this year, compared to ten over our entire previous history since 2011. About half of these seem to be significantly driven by content and in-person advice that we think is similar to our existing programmes (as opposed to personal contact with our founders, a source of impact which may not scale as rapidly with marginal funding).

6 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-05-08T17:59:14.051Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

From the "plans for 2019" section of the review:

If we are able to cover the expansion budget, then, unlike last year, we will also prioritise hiring about five people...
Two advisors – We currently only have two advisors: Michelle and Niel. We’re confident there are enough ‘tier 1’ applicants to fill up an extra advisor, because we already have more than we’re able to advise. If we started to promote the application again, we think we could solicit enough tier 1 applicants to fill a second advisor, and perhaps more. We also think it’s likely everyone in this ‘tier 1’ group is worth speaking to at least once.

cf. with "We had 3,800 sign-ups to our advising wait list despite not actively promoting it, making the one-on-one advice highly oversubscribed."

I don't understand the reasoning for only expanding 80k advising capacity to 4 advisors, given the amount of demand for advising.

Seems like one advisor can advise ~100 people/year in the current configuration ("We delivered one-on-one advice to 217 people [in 2018]...").

So 4 advisors could advise 400 people/year.

What's the case for not hiring more advisors?

Hypotheses, off the top of my head:

  • Lack of good advisor candidates?
  • Not enough potentially "tier-1" people signing up for career advising?
  • Not enough money to support more advisors?
comment by aarongertler · 2019-05-09T02:11:12.691Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The hypothesis I jumped to was "scaling up well takes time".

Even if you hire people who have the potential to be good advisors, who are advising people with the potential to be "tier-1", trying to, say, quadruple the number of advisors within a year would strain 80K's attention and could bring about many difficulties (interpersonal clashes, message drift, dropping non-advisory projects because advisors require managerial time for supervision, increased pressure on the operations team...).

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-05-09T03:39:19.895Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · EA · GW
The hypothesis I jumped to was "scaling up well takes time"...

In my experience, scaling teams is fairly straightforward when total team size remains under 15.

(And it probably retains much of this straightforwardness for as long as the total firm size is under 150, Dunbar's number.)

comment by aarongertler · 2019-05-09T09:44:40.686Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

The rule of thumb I've heard in various CEO interviews is that an organization's nature fundamentally changes when it triples in size. 80K has ten full-time staff at the moment (counting their team page plus one person who hasn't been added yet), but if only a couple of those are advisors, tripling the size of the advisory team might change a lot.

Not that I'm saying "concern with difficulty around scaling up" is 80K's only motivation; I'd just guess that it's roughly as important as difficulty finding good advisors.

comment by aarongertler · 2019-05-10T06:21:57.444Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Just found a relevant line from the review:

We think the question of how fast to hire is very difficult and we’re constantly debating it. Currently we think that five per year is manageable and will help us grow. Much above five per year, and most of our time would be spent hiring and there would be risks to the culture. Much below that seems like a failure to adequately grow our team capacity.

Still not sure about the importance of this vs. other factors, though.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-05-10T16:13:28.155Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, I missed that!