The best article I’ve read in the past few days is about quitting. Namely, The Quitting Economy which you simply must read. The economy, work, jobs, and careers are changing and this article perfectly captures how to think about it. Consider:
In general, to keep stock prices high, companies not only have to pay their employees as little as possible, they must also have as temporary a workforce as their particular business can allow. The more expendable the workforce, the easier it is to expand and contract in response to short-term demands. These are market and shareholder metrics. Their dominance diminished commitment to employees, and all other commitments but to shareholders, as much as the particular industry requirements of production allow. With companies so organised, the idea of loyalty receded.
I’ve recently shared several articles @brewerma on stock options, toxic work places, and how the increasing shareholder value paradigm in business is crushing employees and societies.
The idea of caring deeply about your work and standing out from the crowd is discussed in The Benefits of Living Like a Craftsperson:
Quality. It’s when someone is so completely present for and dedicated to his or her act that they become hard to separate; they become one.
There is a wonderful article about getting up early and getting things done and how that works. Take a look at The Simple Secret to Creating a Successful Morning Routine No One Ever Talks. The Besomebody.com site is terrific and is sharing great content.
Some interesting out of the box thinking proposing that runways should be circular instead of straight. Take a look at their video here.
A great article about The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals.
And finally a nice article on information theory entitled How Information Got Re-Invented. One of my favorite books on the subject I wrote about here.
Great article in the New York Times about the challenges with autonomous vehicles. I continued to be fascinated by solving this problem and the resulting impacts that will have on all of us. I’ve written about it here and here and other places.
This article highlights some of the very subtle but real challenges with having an automated system control all aspects of a complicated problem. It is these boundaries or edge kind of problems that are the hard problems to solve. Things on the edge. These are the issues and problems that will delay any automation moving into the mainstream. Having a car stay between two lines is not the hard problem.
And then in the decade after these problems are solved and these vehicles are the norm, we’ll all forget how to manually drive the car because we’ve turned that problem over to the machines. Just like pilots today who are so used to autopilots that when they have to take over in a complex situation, they may not be up to the task.
A year and a half ago I ordered a number of actual, physical paperback books to give to some friends at an event where I was speaking. The book was one I wanted to hand out related to the topic of our discussion and my time with them. A certain big book company began shipping these books in separate shipments from around their universe. However, the books kept coming and went way over the amount I ordered. I kept getting new shipment notices in email when I had already received the ones I had ordered.
This particular company is a big web based company and it is hard to actually talk to someone there. I sent emails and finally got a hold of a person and explained the problem. The first person couldn’t understand and didn’t fix the problem. I called again and got another person who did see the problem and managed to cancel what was happening. I offered to ship books back, but they said keep them and give them away.
Seven months ago I ordered some socks from another online business and got double the shipment. Two weeks ago I ordered some running apparel and instead of three items, I got six. In both these cases, I offered to return the over shipment and they told me to just keep them.
A big company which ships a lot of books and two smaller, niche companies who are probably closer to the edge getting their order management and shipping wrong.
I don’t know if this is IT or order management or their online revenue engine, but in any case, companies big and small must get this right. You can’t stay in business long if you are getting so many shipments wrong.
I should have ordered iPads.
In reading several books lately and through several observations, I’m better understanding the need for leaders to look for the facts and avoid the narratives. Too many leaders have a narrative or worldview or agenda they are driving that are not based on facts. It might be regarding climate change or it might be spending in an organization or it might be a new program that someone wants to start or stop. In many cases, poor leaders are driving or driven by the narrative independent of the facts.
The facts are sometimes hard to spot and the facts might not be the facts because they might be created or driven by a narrative further up stream. So even the facts needs to be questioned and discussed. However, if you want to be a leader, if you want to have an impact, if you want to succeed, you’ve got to be looking for the underlying facts.
In some contexts, this means looking for the ‘root cause’ in others situations it might be clearly understanding ‘the goal.’ Either looking backwards to the cause or forward to the destination. In either case, find this first. Look for this.
The world is a strange place right now with narratives driving so much.
Just finished reading (actually listening to on Audible)
I’ve read a lot of leadership and getting things done and how to be better kind of books over the years and I’ve posted about some of my favorites on this blog on the reading page. This has to be one of the very best of these books that I’ve read and I highly recommend it. I’ll be adding this book to that page.
Listening on Audible is great, but I can’t highlight the text as it goes along. If I could, I’d share a number of specifics. I’ll likely go through this one again on Kindle.
Ideas around work-life balance, your weaknesses might really be your strengths and that being on the edge is usually better than being in the middle. And about people like Einstein, Genghis Khan and Ted Williams.
I’m thinking about getting some extra ‘real’ copies to give to some friends.
You can also follow Eric on Twitter @bakadesuyo. I don’t know Eric and haven’t met him. The links to the book are amazon associate links however.
So there is a story on Mashable called The Latest Tool in Medicine? The iPhone which highlights some studies where iPhones are being used to collect data as part of medical studies.
Yes, carrying around a powerful compute device, that you can interface with, that is connected to the mother ship for two way communications might result in some powerful new medical studies, advances, options and ideas. Duh.
It is not really the iPhone, it is the mobile, connected, compute device that people have with them all the time (and won’t leave behind) that is the key here. I love my iPhone, but that is not the advance, it is the connected device connecting to the patient/subject.
There will be huge things coming from this as has been written about elsewhere. Immediate detection of crisis events, more frequent sampling of data in studies, ability to trigger something to happen to the patient (administer something), etc. etc. Lots of things can come from this.
I recently completed reading The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness by Rose. And yesterday I read a related article called “What Are You Hiding?” which goes along the same lines. The book is outstanding and makes a great case for you can’t compare yourself against averages in many cases. The articles does the same in a shorter version.
We tend to compare our IT shops against an average in benchmarks yet both of these make the point that this is not always reasonable. None of us are average. None of our organizations are average. We are all unique in some aspects. We all have unique business requirements. We all have unique characteristics.
The standard benchmark in IT is IT spend as a % of revenue. We compare what our ‘organization’ spends on IT compared against the average for our ‘industry group.’ Really, are any of us average? Do these benchmarks mean anything? Should a group be ‘judged’ by these benchmarks?
They might only provide directional considerations, but we are all unique.