Welcome to Filament's Idea Surplus Disorder newsletter.
In this edition: Filament Friday, saltshaker leadership, AI innovation, origins of office-speak, bad note-taking apps, Napoleon's Kindle, chimp-pigs, sleep baseball, and more.
Filament Friday & Innovation Hours
We've got the final Filament Friday of the year this week.
Filament Friday is a unique blend of networking, co-working, and skill-sharing where you can meet new innovation-focused peers, find new ways to overcome current work challenges, and roll up your sleeves to make real progress on that project that never seems to get off the ground. RSVP here.
I'm also opening up five "Innovation Hours" with me. If you find value in our conversation, I only ask that you commit to donating something to a local nonprofit helping families during the holidays. Grab a time with me here.
Ideas + Insights
Are you on the fence about reimagining how AI can change your organization? It might be getting too late:
There are only two ways to react to exponential change: too early or too late. Today’s AIs are flawed and limited in many ways. While that restricts what AI can do, the capabilities of AI are increasing exponentially, both in terms of the models themselves and the tools these models can use. It might seem too early to consider changing an organization to accommodate AI, but I think that there is a strong possibility that it will quickly become too late.
I learned a lot from this article on the origins of office-speak:
Some of today’s most popular buzzwords were created by academics who believed that work should satisfy one’s soul; others were coined by consultants who sold the idea that happy workers are effective workers. The Wall Street lingo of the 1980s all comes back to “the bottom line,” while the techie terms of today suggest that humans are creative computers, whose work is measured in “capacity” and “bandwidth.” Corporate jargon may seem meaningless to the extent that it's best described as “bullshit,” but it actually reveals a lot about how workers think about their lives.
Hmmmmmmm. More than 1/3 of consulting industry professionals are considering changing jobs in 2024. Here are some of the reasons why:
In the survey of more than 1,500 senior-level consultants and industry professionals worldwide, 78% ranked remote work as an important or very important factor when looking for a new role. After that, 63% said a company’s health and well-being provision was important or very important, and 53% said a company’s mission or purpose was a major factor.
I've also been searching for the perfect notetaking app for nearly 25 years. Perhaps there aren't any:
It is probably a mistake, in the end, to ask software to improve our thinking. Even if you can rescue your attention from the acid bath of the internet; even if you can gather the most interesting data and observations into the app of your choosing; even if you revisit that data from time to time — this will not be enough. It might not even be worth trying.
The reason, sadly, is that thinking takes place in your brain. And thinking is an active pursuit — one that often happens when you are spending long stretches of time staring into space, then writing a bit, and then staring into space a bit more. It’s here that the connections are made and the insights are formed. And it is a process that stubbornly resists automation.”
The more entertaining people find conspiracy theories, the more likely they are to believe them.
These four classes of military officers also show up in many workplaces:
I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!
Want some inspiration for solving a big problem? Ask Nature.
I shared a gem from restauranteur Danny Meyer last week. Here's another of his about Saltshakers and Leadership:
Your staff and your guests are always moving your saltshaker off center. That’s their job. It is the job of life. It’s the law of entropy! Until you understand that, you’re going to get pissed off every time someone moves the saltshaker off center. It is not your job to get upset.
Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like to you.
And if you’re ever willing to let them decide where the center is, then I want you to give them the keys to the store. Just give away the f-in' restaurant!
We get asked all the time about how to eliminate PowerPoint slides. Garr Reynolds, in his great book Presentation Zen has one suggestion:
Create a written document. A leave-behind. Put in as many footnotes or details as you like. Then, when you start your presentation, tell the audience that you’re going to give them all the details of your presentation after it’s over, and they don’t have to write down everything you say. Remember, the presentation is to make an emotional sale. The document is the proof that helps the intellectuals in your audience accept the idea that you’ve sold them on emotionally. Don’t hand out printouts of your slides. They don’t work without you there.
- Everything you needed to know about Africa (in about ten minutes).
- Sleep Baseball is a podcast of a fake baseball game (without commercials and any super-exciting action) designed to help you fall asleep.
- Does tipping your GPT increase its performance?
- I don't think about Rome every day, but I do love me some Rome Reborn.
- The Chimp Pig Hypothesis is a super-weird critical thinking rabbit-hole to fall down.
- Napoleon's "Kindle"
- Here's an easy way to settle those long-standing internet arguments.
Words of Wisdom
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." – Sherlock Holmes
"We don't know where we get our ideas from. We do know we don't get them from our laptops." – John Cleese
"The idea does not belong to the soul; it is the soul that belongs to the idea." – Charles Sanders Pierce
"When people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past." – Austin Kleon
"Take a simple idea, and take it seriously." — Charlie Munger
"What you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read." – Twyla Tharp
"Until we make the unconscious conscious, we will be dictated by it and call it fate." – Jerry Colonna
"Do not wait; the time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." – George Herbert