Issue #34

In this edition: when coordination beats collaboration, why strategy models have a shelf life, better Gen Z feedback, how handwriting helps us learn, innovation sandwiches, Aztecs, short films, fake belly buttons, and more.

Welcome to Idea Surplus Disorder.

In this edition: when coordination beats collaboration, why strategy models have a shelf life, better Gen Z feedback, how handwriting helps us learn, innovation sandwiches, Aztecs, short films, fake belly buttons, and more.

I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

Ideas + Insights

Are you focused on collaborating when you should be coordinating instead?

Coordination, which involves more sequential rather than simultaneous work (think handoffs and baton passes), is simpler than collaboration. But leaders are still more interested in collaboration for shared work. That's because collaboration has a halo effect, driving leaders to believe it is synonymous with teamwork. In our recent research, we found that roughly one in five leaders don't know the difference between the two terms. Do you?

Why have so few strategy concepts had a lasting impact on the art, practice, and substance of strategy?

By their nature, big strategy concepts are not particular to any one company. That’s problematic, because when they become wildly popular and widely adopted, no one gains advantage from them. In fact, the me-too pursuit of strategy concepts stymies their supposed benefits.

Ways to give Gen Z employees the feedback they need:

Managers often assume that their employees understand that feedback is given in their best interest. However, especially for younger employees, there may not be any reason for them to have an initial level of trust. As a result, they may not realize they can be given criticism and feedback without it meaning they’re going to be fired. As managers, we need to take steps to proactively build trust with our young employees.

Handwriting matters:

Studies have found that writing on paper can improve everything from recalling a random series of words to imparting a better conceptual grasp of complicated ideas. For learning material by rote, from the shapes of letters to the quirks of English spelling, the benefits of using a pen or pencil lie in how the motor and sensory memory of putting words on paper reinforces that material. The arrangement of squiggles on a page feeds into visual memory: people might remember a word they wrote down in French class as being at the bottom-left on a page, par exemple.

Hungry for new ideas? Try serving your teams an Innovation Sandwich:

Brainstorm sessions are prone to groupthink, stopping before enough ideas are generated, and other unhelpful dynamics. But the authors aren’t ready to get rid of them and instead recommend the “innovation sandwich” approach where participants come together with lists of ideas they’ve already generated, then go away to think about the ideas, and then eventually return to discuss them again. They recommend assembling groups as small as three people who bring different perspectives and asking them to submit multiple initial answers to a “How might we….?” question expressing the problem.

Want to increase your team's productivity by 71 percent? Reduce your meetings by 40%:

Across the 76 companies we surveyed, we found that employee productivity was 71% higher when meetings were reduced by 40%. This is largely because employees felt more empowered and autonomous. Rather than a schedule being the boss, they owned their to-do lists and held themselves accountable, which consequently increased their satisfaction by 52%.

Every job is a sales job:

All great careers, to some degree, become sales jobs. You have to evangelize your plans to customers, prospective employees, the press, investors, etc. This requires an inspiring vision, strong communication skills, some degree of charisma, and evidence of execution ability.

Unexpected ways Spotify has changed music:

Some of Spotify’s features have had unexpected effects: the fact that a song does not count towards an artist’s income until thirty seconds of it have been played is causing songs to now move their choruses and most attractive parts forward to the beginning, avoid long introductions and make generally shorter songs that maximize the number of listens. Similarly, since an artist’s fans tend to listen to their new albums in their entirety the first few times, releasing an album with a larger number of songs automatically brings in more revenue.
There is also a larger phenomenon of cross-pollination: since including artists from other genres opens up the potential market, it is common to see some artists releasing a song in which they collaborate with an artist that appeals to different audiences: pop stars including collaborations with Latin artists, with rappers or with other musical genres, often after having released a version that lacked these collaborations.

A key driver of false memories is the brain’s bias to recall events in ways that conform to what usually happens:

Reality, after all, is predictable, so the brain attempts to predict it both to save resources and provide us with a streamlined perception.

Learn faster and communicate better with the Feynman Technique:

“Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language.”

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

“You can. You should. And if you start, you will.” – Stephen King
"We don’t notice what we don’t notice, so we don’t notice that we don’t notice." – Shelia Heen
We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. – Marshall McLuhan
“All great truths are obvious truths but not all obvious truths are great truths." – Aldous Huxley
"A story is never an answer. A story is always a question." – Ali Smith
“Ideas are solutions to future problems. They represent tomorrow’s profits. No ideas, no tomorrow.” – Jeremy Utley
“Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those who you are capable of improving.” — Seneca
"Great strategies always go against the grain of accepted wisdom." – Ken Favaro
“Our tools have done us a disservice, and we've paid for them to do it.” – Alex Morris
Our Muse is always ahead of us. The audience is always behind. – Stephen Pressfield
“People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive." – Rolf Potts
"You like the surprises you want. The ones you don’t want you call problems!" – Tony Robbins
"A man is about as big as the things that make him angry." - Winston Churchill

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