Idea Surplus Disorder #57

In this edition, Filament is hiring, the curse of dumb-sounding ideas, early optimization, complicated strategies, restaurant bureaucracies, adjectives in order, bullet-pointed books, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #57

In this edition, Filament is hiring, the curse of dumb-sounding ideas, early optimization, complicated strategies, restaurant bureaucracies, adjectives in order, bullet-pointed books, and more.

I'm Matt Homann, and I'm glad you're here!

Want to come to SuperCollider?

We've got a few spots left for our "soft opening" of SuperCollider next Friday. If you'd like to bring a team of three or more to do some work, learn some things, help others, and walk away inspired, check it out.

Filament is Hiring!

We're looking for an Operations and Hospitality Lead (a.k.a. our "Orchestrator"). It's a cool job that offers room for a ton of growth and learning. Though we've imagined it as a full-time position, we'd be open to splitting the role among a few part-time rock stars, too.

Please pass it on to (only) the amazing people in your network!

Ideas & Insights

Microsoft executive Sam Shillace shared this on Lenny's Podcast about how new ideas are discounted by others no matter how good they are:

Every new idea looks dumb at first. Unfortunately, the dumb ideas also look dumb at first. But the more disruptive they are, the more dumb you're going to feel they are – and if you hear people saying something's a toy, that's often a really good signifier that it's actually something real and threatening, and they can't think of a better criticism for it than it's just a toy right now.

If you're designing a creative space that's built for collaboration, make it like a Montessori.

One of the biggest mistakes we made at Filament was trying to optimize too early:

It’s easy to think, “Well, I might need this feature, so let’s design it in now,” before you really understand what the product will be about. That’s a good way to get distracted at best or have an unworkable design that has to be redone later.

To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you might not have a simple strategy when ...

A bad strategy is not simple [and is communicated with]: Pages of detail. Slides with more than 20 words. A litany of numbers without a narrative explaining what insights they create. No diagrams “painting the picture,” or diagrams with 20 boxes. Too many points for someone to recall from memory. Important concepts that aren’t summarized by a short phrase that people can use as a daily short-hand.

This tongue-in-cheek recap of a bad restaurant experience might ring a bit too true to those stuck in bureaucratic organizations:

There is a lock on the refrigerator because company policy says it should be locked at all times. You can go to the website and open a ticket to get it unlocked – with management approval, of course. The managers have already gone home to pick up their kids.

Do your team members understand your company's values? Ask these three questions:

First, “Do you understand our values?” This can help communicators understand whether most employees have received adequate information about the company’s stated values.

Second, “Do you believe the company management lives these values?” This can help communicators understand whether the company’s actions reflect these stated values, or whether they are regarded as mere puffery.

And third, “Do you personally feel empowered to make decisions based on these values?” This last question can help communicators understand whether people believe they would be rewarded or punished for acting on company values—and also for pointing out that others are not living up to those values.

If your organization is risk-averse, consider the consequences of not making a change:

[W]hen trying to make some change, we’re apt to notice and calculate all of the risks associated with making that change. We’re much less apt to notice all of the risks of not making that change—of persisting on the current path. It’s a kind of status quo fallacy, I think: an assumption that only deviating from the current route is risky, while staying put somehow is not. But every time I ask the question, “what’s the risk of not doing this thing?”

And from the same article:

It’s quite pointless to talk about risk-benefit without saying “Are those who are at risk also getting the benefits, or are those who are getting the benefits very far removed from the risk?”…The questions to ask are “Whose benefits? Whose risks?” rather than “What benefits? What risks?"

This list of 43 Things That Don't Work includes these gems:

  • Expecting people to follow written instructions. Sufficiently motivated people will climb any mountain and walk over any length of broken glass. But in most situations, if you send most people written instructions, they simply will not follow them and quite possibly will not even read them. This is true even when instructions are simple and stakes are high.
  • Making sense of interactions with crazy people.
  • Trying to figure it all out ahead of time. For hard problems, you can sit around trying to see around all corners and anticipate all possibilities. This can work—when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, everything worked the first time. But it’s really hard. If you can, it’s easier to build a prototype, learn from the flaws, and then build another one.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” – Carol Dweck
"Offering choices is not the same as exploring possibilities."Alex Morris
“Scarcity is the one thing you can never have enough of.” — Marc Randolph
“Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments.” — Neil Strauss
"What people say about you behind your back is none of your business." — John Maeda
“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust—and those elements are universally accessible.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
“I wouldn’t have seen it, if I didn’t believe it.” — Marshall McLuhan
"How do you beat Bobby Fischer? Play him at anything but chess." — Warren Buffet
"Sometimes the straightest course to a successful career is the one with most twists and turns." Cameron Moll

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