Issue #30

In this edition: Filament's September programming, forgiveness at work, starting with the monkey, brag documents, the Bee Gees, yo-yo magic, and more.

Issue #30

Welcome to another edition of Idea Surplus Disorder. I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

In this edition: Filament's September programming, forgiveness at work, starting with the monkey, brag documents, the Bee Gees, yo-yo magic, and more.


  • September 5th | Bookstorming: This month, we're reading three different books by Seth Godin. It's not too late to sign up, as our next Bookstorming is on September 5th.
  • September 8th | Filament Friday: Back by popular demand, join us Friday, September 8th, to work in our space, meet some innovative folks, and play some bocce!
  • September 13th | NSFW – Your Meeting Muse: A lot of people have asked how I'm using ChatGPT, Claude, and other AI writing tools. In our next New Skills For Work on September 13th, join me as I share ways Filament is partnering with our new robot overlords to work faster, think smarter, be more creative, and make meetings better.

Ideas + Insights

Rich and famous is overrated. Perhaps it is better to be rich and anonymous:

A subtle problem with money is that assets are easy to measure but liabilities can be hidden. Measuring lottery winnings is simple: $3.9 million, down to the penny. But how do you measure losing your privacy? Or the nagging doubt that some friends only like you for your money? That’s way harder.

Are there things the world's religions can teach us to build more forgiveness into the ways we manage our organizations?

[T]he process should encompass both repentance and forgiveness. And repentance needs to include a decision on requisite penance, and the acceptance and service of the penance.
With repentance and serving of penance, the precipitating cause needs to be expunged — otherwise it isn’t true forgiveness. If the mistake stays in the person’s file forever, there is no real forgiveness. It may take years to serve the penance — I wholeheartedly endorse probation periods — but at some point, the black mark has to go away.
If an executive makes an avoidable mistake that (say) cost the company 20% of the year’s income, then it may take 10 years of probation to get to a clear record. If instead, a salesperson blows one promising lead with a foolish move, but admits the mistake, the penance may involve something minor like closer supervision for six months. In either case, if the record is never going to be cleared then it is much more humane to fire the executive to facilitate the start a new career rather than live under a shadow forever. The system needs to have balance and proportionality — but closure.

If you're worried your team is focused on the wrong things, perhaps you should remind them to start with the monkey:

Let’s say you’re trying to teach a monkey how to recite Shakespeare while on a pedestal. How should you allocate your time and money between training the monkey and building the pedestal?
The right answer, of course, is to spend zero time thinking about the pedestal. But I bet at least a couple of people will rush off and start building a really great pedestal first. Why? Because at some point the boss is going to pop by and ask for a status update — and you want to be able to show off something other than a long list of reasons why teaching a monkey to talk is really, really hard.

The Twelve Leverage Points are new to me, but worth a read if you're trying to change a system.

Why should we spend time thinking about the future? To change things, from now on:

This means that you must be very careful when trying to ‘future’ to ensure that you are not unwittingly reproducing implicit past patterns. When doing futures thinking, you can, and to some extent must, explicitly choose aspects of the past that you believe will extend, or should be extended, into the future. But futuring is of little value, perhaps even dangerous, if it extrapolates into the future things that will not and should not be there, but which are because those doing the ‘futures thinking’ did not adequately think about them.”

Should you split your brainstorming into two meetings? Wayne Turmel thinks so:

Don’t assume that everything has to be solved in one meeting. Often you’ll generate more thoughtful input and can hear from people who couldn’t attend the original meeting by doing the brainstorming in one session. Then you can actually address those results in another, subsequent meeting. You can give people time to think about what you might have missed, digest and process the information and be ready to really dig into a solution if you give them time to think.

Here's why you always seem to have more work:

Better technology means higher expectations, and higher expectations create more work.

In our next NSFW session, we'll talk about ways to leverage ChatGPT to make better management decisions:

The great strength of ChatGPT and similar systems is to compare and contrast similar situations. This is precisely the most important need in many management decisions. Very few of the decisions managers face are unique. Thousands, sometimes even millions, of managers before them have had to make a similar choice. The better it is described in human language how they set the decision-making framework, weigh the options, and make their decision, the easier it is for DecisionGPT to become a powerful tool for more informed decision-making.

Why you should keep a brag document:

Instead of trying to remember everything you did with your brain, maintain a “brag document” that lists everything so you can refer to it when you get to performance review season! This is a pretty common tactic – when I started doing this I mentioned it to more experienced people and they were like “oh yeah, I’ve been doing that for a long time, it really helps."

Need a pep talk? Peptoc Hotline offers prerecorded life advice and pep talks from K-6th elementary school students from Healdsburg, California. The phone number is a local US number 707-8PEPTOC. Press number: 1 if you're frustrated, 2 for life advice, 4 for children laughing with delight and 6 for how awesome you look.

Fun Finds

The PDF Resume Scanner gives you questions to ask a job candidate from just their uploaded resume.

This is the most incredible Yo-Yo performance you'll see today (or ever).

Seventies TV was so strange: Chuck Berry and the Bee Gees.

The early history of counting.

The history of the corporate presentation.

Words of Wisdom

“The problem is that we cannot imagine a future where we possess less but are more." – Charles Bowden
"Pessimists look at the news, while optimists look at the data.” – Hannah Ritchie
"Who does the work? Who bears the consequences? Who reaps the rewards? When the incentives are aligned, it's the same person." – James Clear
"Some lack the fickleness to live as they wish and just live as they have begun." – Seneca
"The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last." – Oscar Wilde
"We don’t have to wait until we are on our deathbed to realize what a waste of our precious lives it is to carry the belief that something is wrong with us." – Tara Brach
"The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that’s the only time everything will be okay." – Michael Singer

Subscribe to Idea Surplus Disorder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.