Issue #45

In this issue: the PowerPoint innovation dilemma, strategic life planning, deciding better, building brave spaces, intellectual humility, laws of simplicity, sci-fi crews, weekly crying, and more.

Issue #45

Welcome to 2023's final issue of Idea Surplus Disorder.

I'm taking off (obviously) next Monday for Christmas Day, but I'll have a special edition that will hit your inboxes on January 1st. I hope you'll like the big news I'll have to share.

In this edition: the PowerPoint innovation dilemma, strategic life planning, deciding better, building brave spaces, intellectual humility, laws of simplicity, sci-fi crews, weekly crying, and more.

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

Insights + Ideas

Defaulting to PowerPoint may keep your organization from innovating:

Moreover, this reliance on a standardized format risks turning presentations into forgettable, formulaic slide decks. When every presentation follows the same structural blueprint, the unique qualities of each idea become muddled. This homogenization can dampen enthusiasm and engagement, both for the presenter and the audience, as each deck starts to look like the last.
In this environment, the potential for truly novel and revolutionary ideas is often curtailed. The constraints imposed by traditional PowerPoint formats may inadvertently discourage presenters from experimenting with unconventional structures or narrative styles that could more effectively convey their innovative concepts. As a result, opportunities for genuine breakthroughs in thought and application may be missed, reinforcing a cycle of conformity and mediocrity in business communications.

Can you take lessons from corporate strategy to build a better life plan?

For a corporate strategy to be successful, it must be anchored to the organization’s purpose, which lies at the intersection of, What are we good at? and What does the world need?, and takes into account, What are our values? and What excites us? Using these questions, we’ve helped companies around the world develop purpose statements. A purpose statement serves as an important guardrail for your strategy and is a North Star for your organization.
The same questions can be used to find your life purpose. Ask yourself, What am I good at? Think about situations at work or in other areas of life in which you have demonstrated critical strengths such as creativity, teamwork, or communication. Then ask, What are my core values? Think about critical decisions you’ve made and principles you hold dear that have provided direction, such as honesty, fairness, or integrity.

If you'd like to make better decisions, try the D.E.C.I.D.E. framework:

  • Define the problem. Taking 70sority when trying to make a decision.
  • Establish the criteria. If you’re about to purchase a piece of software, what are the criteria? Is it price, great support, or ease of use? List all the factors you want to consider before making a decision.
  • Consider the alternatives. Try to spend the right amount of time on this step. Too much time spent considering all the alternatives can drive to overthinking and analysis paralysis. Just make sure you have done enough research to have a few solid alternatives.
  • Identify the best alternative. Weight the list of criteria you have created in the second step, and rate each of the alternatives. Then, compute the result to see which alternative makes the maximizing most sense based on your criteria.
  • Develop and implement a plan of action. Time to act on that decision. Especially if you have a maximizing or thinking style, it’s important to force yourself to not go back to the previous steps and to move forward with the decision.
  • Evaluate the solution. In order to make better decisions over time, examine the outcomes and the feedback you get.

Build a Brave Space to accelerate corporate innovation:

In business, engineering, and technical areas, the term “skunk works” refers to a group given the freedom to break from bureaucracy and work on special projects outside their day job. Brave space is the skunk works for today, applicable to any domain. It’s a blank canvas, a sandbox with toys, a big garage designed for people who want to make a difference through co-creation. 
A brave space enables better ideation of products moving through the right teams to iterate and hit the market with a splash. In a brave space, we can align ideas to ideas, people to people, and ideas to people. It allows the best projects to be crowdsourced by the culture, based on relevance and the interest of employees. These projects can be supported by senior leaders with resources to accelerate the builds.

This is great decision-making (and meeting) advice for leaders from Claire Hughes Johnson:

When I’m in a team meeting or even a 1:1 and I’m presented with an urgent situation that needs a decision and an action, I now have a personal rule I try to follow: Ask a question first. This stops me from moving too quickly. It also helps build my team’s confidence and strength in their own communication and problem-solving skills, especially if I’ve populated the team with others who are not as quick to action.

Be intellectually humble:

People who are intellectually humble know that their beliefs, opinions, and viewpoints are fallible because they realize that the evidence on which their beliefs are based could be limited or flawed or that they may not have the expertise or ability to understand and evaluate the evidence. Intellectual humility involves understanding that we can’t fully trust our beliefs and opinions because we might be relying on faulty or incomplete information or are incapable of understanding the details.

Tesler's Law makes so much sense:

The total complexity of a system is a constant. If you make a user’s interaction with a system simpler, the complexity behind the scenes increases.
Perceived simplicity is not at all the same as simplicity of usage: operational simplicity. Perceived simplicity decreases with the number of visible controls and displays. Increase the number of visible alternatives and the perceived simplicity drops. The problem is that operational simplicity can be drastically improved by adding more controls and displays. The very things that make something easier to learn and to use can also make it be perceived as more difficult.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

“If you do not know which port you are sailing to, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” – Maya Angelou
“PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play — very loud, very slow, and very simple.” — Edward Tufte
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." – C.S. Lewis
"To get what you want, deserve what you want. Trust, success, and admiration are earned." – Charlie Munger
"When you choose your friends today, you are choosing your habits tomorrow." – James Clear
"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." — Herman Melville
“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.” – Rumi

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