Issue #36

In this edition: Lauren Fast joins the Filament team, Thinksgiving sponsorship opportunities, toxic positivity, imposter syndrome, the curse of project management tools, science fiction, Seth Godin, Land of the Lost, murmuration, cats, and more.

Issue #36

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

In this edition: Lauren Fast joins the Filament team, Thinksgiving sponsorship opportunities, toxic positivity, imposter syndrome, the curse of project management tools, science fiction, Seth Godin, Land of the Lost, murmuration, cats, and more.

Lauren Fast has Joined Filament

I'm so excited and honored to welcome Lauren Fast to the Filament team as our Senior Facilitator. Lauren's a tremendous facilitator and creative business person with a wealth of experience, and I can't wait for you all to see her in action!

We've got some cool Thinksgiving Sponsorship opportunities this year that include a mix of Thinksgiving benefits and Filament services. If you're interested, give Emily a shout!


  • October 24 | NSFW – Your Company's Performance Review: It’s annual review time — but this year instead of giving feedback to your employees, consider the feedback you’d offer your own company or team. We'll share a new facilitation tool you can use with your team to give your organization its annual "review."
  • October 27 | Filament Friday: Back by popular demand, join us Friday, October 27th, to work in our space, meet some innovative folks, and play some bocce! We'll also have Thinksgiving Office Hours for anyone who'd like a final dose of Thinksgiving facilitation coaching before our big day.

Ideas + Insights

Do you have a toxic positivity problem in your workplace?

Toxic positivity is when being upbeat is valued above all else. Real problems get dismissed or suppressed to maintain happy facades, either by ignoring them, or by papering over concerns with positive platitudes. It can feel both frustrating and suffocating to anyone with a more realistic or balanced view.

Want to ask Seth Godin a question? Ask his Sethbot.

This simple image of bridging the beginner-to-expert gap is a good reminder that true expertise doesn't come naturally.

I've fallen trap to this more than once: your project management software can't save you:

A huge part of your job today may be simply resolving and reconfiguring the natural entropy in your office, but poorly communicated deadlines will remain so whether they’re written on an index card, sent in an email, or appended to a “task” in Asana. If you put something on a digital kanban board without enough information, it is no more useful than it was before you created the task.
Workforce software is offloading the job of managing projects to countless mini-projects, each only as useful as the skill and utility of the individual user. And we can’t expect each user to be both a maker and a self-manager, especially with the imperfect tools on the market.
When we line up the Trellos, Asanas, Wrikes, Airtables, and endless clones of the same inherent project-management misses, their differences matter less than their end results—to paraphrase Anna Karenina’s line about families, each project-management app promises the same happiness, but each creates unhappy users in its own way.

More on workplace tools for hybrid teams:

Differentiate between the tools you’ll use together and the tools you’ll use separately. While it’s crucial to specify (or vote on) the tools you’ll use for collaborative tasks like drafting documents, you can let people choose their own tools for anything they are working on alone. There’s no need to agree on collaboration tools for a task someone is tackling solo..

From the "no surprise here" department, Zoom really does make you feel worse about yourself:

One thing that is unique to videoconferencing is that it allows people to easily compare themselves with others and watch themselves sharing and speaking in real time. A 2023 study found that discomfort with one’s appearance during videoconferencing led to an increased fixation on appearance, which in turn led to impaired work performance.

Here's a primer article on LLM (Large Language Models) for Dummies.

I love this collection of old, cool manuals.

Science fiction is data from the future:

With hundreds of thousands of narratives at our disposal, many crafted with a specific goal and anchored in possibility
The genre unveils numerous potential pathways. Often, recurring themes or motifs emerge, indicating a communal resonance with certain concepts. As the saying goes, "Never ignore a landslide" when a notion garners widespread attention
Delving into these narratives, absorbing the diverse ideas and historical evolution of science fiction, and then integrating these insights into solid strategic frameworks for exploring the future can significantly enhance our output. The more perspectives you encounter, the richer the network of connections you can establish in your work.

Do we need another color on traffic lights for autonomous cars?

When the white light is showing, autonomous vehicles (AVs) are free to choose and coordinate their own movements. Red, green, and amber operate as usual. The fourth light kicks in when there is a sufficient density of AVs. The fallback is neat.
When enough AVs are approaching the intersection, this would activate the white light. The white light is a signal that AVs are coordinating their movement to facilitate traffic through the intersection more efficiently. Any non-automated vehicles - those being driven by a person - would simply be required to follow the vehicle in front of them: if the car in front of them stops, they stop; if the car in front of them goes through the intersection, they go through the intersection.

Feeling like an imposter at work. Remember that your main job is to learn:

From the perspective of someone who feels like an impostor, the main takeaway of this model is: view yourself as learning. Your main job is to learn. That doesn’t necessarily mean studying in a classroom or from textbooks; often it means just performing the day-to-day work of your field, but paying attention to what does and doesn’t work, and digging into the details to understand what’s going on when something unusual happens.
And on the other side of the equation, have some big goals and plan backward from them. Notice what barriers generalize to multiple goals, and what barriers don’t.  Sit down from time to time to check which of your work is actually building toward which of your goals.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"We mistakenly believe our time is worth less than others’ time. We wrongly assume our goals and interests are inferior to other people’s goals and interests. We perceive our value to the world as somehow less than the value offered by those around us.” – Damon Zahariades
“Instead of saying 'That won’t work because of this, that, and the other…,' try saying, 'What would need to be true to make that work (well)?'” – Caroline Webb
"Boldness makes even the smallest animal dangerous." – Robert Greene
"Young people run around searching for identity, but it isn’t handed out free anymore — not in this transient, rootless, pluralistic society. Your identity is what you’ve committed yourself to." – John W. Gardner
"Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense." – Mark Manson
"I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." – J.R.R. Tolkien
"A busy mind accelerates the passage of subjective time." – Naval Ravikant

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