Idea Surplus Disorder #55

In this edition of Idea Surplus Disorder: letting go of sunk costs, eating ugly frogs, making better documents, building better tables, selecting random leaders, chipping eggs, making movies, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #55

Good morning, and happy Monday!

In this edition of Idea Surplus Disorder: letting go of sunk costs, eating ugly frogs, making better documents, building better tables, selecting random leaders, chipping eggs, making movies, and more.

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

SuperCollider Pilot is April 5th.

Last week, I shared that we're launching something cool in May with CIC and Cortex. It's a monthly event called SuperCollider, built for teams of three or more.

If you're interested in helping us pilot the first one on April 5th (kind of like attending a restaurant's soft opening), drop me a line.

Here's the one-pager if you'd like to learn more.

Ideas + Insights

What projects do you have that might benefit from this question from Ori and Rom Brafman's book Sway?  

When we find ourselves unsure about whether or not to continue a particular approach, it’s useful to ask, “If I were just arriving on the scene and were given the choice to either jump into this project as it stands now or pass on it, would I choose to jump in?” If the answer is no, then chances are we’ve been swayed by the hidden force of commitment. Making a clean break might feel uncomfortable, but it could be in our best interest.

Though I don't do this every day as I should, on Mondays, I always eat at least one ugly frog:

The law of Forced Efficiency says that “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” Put another way, you cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one, and that will be enough, at least for the time being.

Speaking of eating frogs ... If you're anxious about something, the Four Steps of the DARE Response are worth applying:

  1. Defuse: “Defusing all anxiety with a strong attitude of 'so what' / 'whatever' is the first important step in The DARE Response. It quickly disarms the buildup of tension and gets you moving in the same direction as the nervous arousal instead of resisting it. It’s a great start, but you now need to use the next step of the response to discharge the anxiety even further.”
  2. Allow: “Now that you’ve started to respond to anxiety in the right way, it’s crucial you keep going by releasing all resistance so that any anxiety that’s still present can dissipate even faster. You do this by accepting the anxiety that you feel and allowing it to manifest in whatever way it wishes.”
  3. Run Towards: “You run toward your anxiety by telling yourself you feel excited by your anxious thoughts or feelings. [...] Let the raw energy of your nervous system express itself fully. Let it excite you rather than terrify you.”
  4. Engage: “The fourth step in The DARE Response is short but crucial as it completes the whole movement from start to finish. [...] Once you’ve defused the initial fear and allowed the anxiety to be present, you should then ride out the declining wave of anxiety by occupying yourself with an activity that really engages your mind.”

Start with these questions if you (or your organization) feel stuck in a scarcity mindset:

  • If I were to experience this situation differently, what might I notice?
  • If I were to perceive something useful here, what would it be?
  • If this seemingly impossible task actually is possible, what's my next logical move?
  • What's going right in this situation?
  • I wonder what it would be like to... (fill in an action that seems to exist outside the scope of possibility.)
  • What resources might I have that I’m not seeing yet?

There's so much to love in this advice on business writing. Here's one key bit:

Don't use more than one of your formatting tools! Bold means something is important. Italics means something is emphasized. Color means something is distinct. Something that is bold, italicized, underlined, and brightly colored means you don't know what's important or what message you're trying to get across — it only communications distraction. And it's hard to read.

And I wish I'd seen this advice on formatting tables ten years ago.

This is a bang I've been drumming for a while: Can we finally kill the idea of "leaderless" organizations?

We need to stop thinking in terms of how many levels of bureaucracy there are and start working to network our organizations. We don’t need to eliminate managers — or anyone else for that matter — but to widen and deepen connections within and without our enterprise. We need to lead and to do it more effectively. The role of leadership in organizations has changed. It is no longer merely to plan and direct work, but to inspire meaning and empower belief. The job of leaders today is to help those groups connect and forge a common purpose.

Where have you seen the Shirky Principle most recently?

The Shirky principle is the adage that “institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”. More broadly, it can also be characterized as the adage that “every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving.”
[A] company may inadvertently perpetuate the problem that it solves, because its processes are so focused on the mediocre solution that they’re currently selling, that they don’t realize a better solution exists. Similarly, a company may discourage the use of a certain approach to solving a problem because it previously failed for them, even after technological advancements make this approach viable.

Should you promote your organization's next leader randomly? Maybe so.

Groups actually made smarter decisions when leaders were chosen at random than when they were elected by a group or chosen based on leadership skill.
Why were randomly chosen leaders more effective? They led more democratically. “Systematically selected leaders can undermine group goals,” Dr. Haslam and his colleagues suggest, because they have a tendency to “assert their personal superiority.” When you’re anointed by the group, it can quickly go to your head: I’m the chosen one.
When you know you’re picked at random, you don’t experience enough power to be corrupted by it. Instead, you feel a heightened sense of responsibility: I did nothing to earn this, so I need to make sure I represent the group well. And in one of the Haslam experiments, when a leader was picked at random, members were more likely to stand by the group’s decisions.

I love this for job candidates during their first interview:

At the start of a job interview, ask your interviewer why they chose you for the interview. This brings your positive qualities to the front of their mind.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"The truth is that our fears only have power over us for as long as we resist them. It is our resistance that gives them energy and a reason to be." – Hilary Gallo
"The simplest way to clarify your thinking is to write a full page about whatever you are dealing with and then delete everything except the 1-2 sentences that explain it best." – James Clear
"Knowledge is not a substitute for ingenuity, merely an accelerant." – Claire North
"Our life is what our thoughts make it." — Marcus Aurelius
“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” – Warren Buffet
"The health of an organization is directly proportional to the speed at which truth travels within it." – Luke Burgis
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.”​ — Milan Kundera
"Inspiration is merely the reward for working every day." – Charles Baudelaire

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