Idea Surplus Disorder #58

In this week's abbreviated edition: the absence of future data, the presence of current problems, specific knowledge, TOSCA, Delta-4, ugly avatars, LEGO minifigs, AI songs, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #58

Happy Monday, all!

In this week's abbreviated edition: the absence of future data, the presence of current problems, specific knowledge, TOSCA, Delta-4, ugly avatars, LEGO minifigs, AI songs, and more.

I'm Matt Homann, the guy who makes great meetings. I'm glad you're here.

Insights + Ideas

When you're planning for tomorrow, remember there is no data about the future:

Focusing on ‘what is true’ is fine if you are confident that the future will be identical to the past. That is the domain of science and its immutable laws — like gravity. However, in the world of business, the future has the capricious habit of being different than the past, often in fully unpredictable ways. As a business, you want to create that future — not let someone else do it to you.
Data by its very nature, can only ever be from the past.  As the great military theorist Colin Gray repeatedly reminded us, “We do not have, and will never obtain, evidence from the future about the future.”

Got a problem? Try framing it with TOSCA:

  • What’s the trouble that’s triggering our quest?
  • Who is the owner?
  • What is the success that we try to achieve?
  • What constraints are there?
  • What actors do we have to consider?

In the future economy, the only way to succeed is to acquire more Specific Knowledge

Some forms of knowledge are specific knowledge, residing in the head of a given individual and both costly and difficult to transfer to others. An example would be the knowledge about the way to optimally handle a given important client in the head of its longstanding salesperson. It would be time consuming and painful for the salesperson to transfer the many intricacies of that knowledge built up over years of serving the client to (say) the company’s CRM system. In contrast, general knowledge, such as how much the customer bought last quarter, is easy to collect and distribute to the entire sales staff.

I saw this chart for thinking about systems change in multiple places last week, so thought I'd share it with you. Here are the problems change can cause in organizations along with their cause:

  • Confusion → Lack of Vision: note that this can be a proper lack of vision, or the lack of understanding of that vision, often due to poor communication and synchronization of the people involved.
  • Anxiety → Lack of Skills: this means that the people involved need to have the ability to do the transformation itself and even more importantly to be skilled enough to thrive once the transformation is completed.
  • Resistance → Lack of Incentives: incentives are important as people tend to have a big inertia to change, not just for fear generated by the unknown, but also because changing takes energy and as such there needs to be a way to offset that effort.
  • Frustration → Lack of Resources: sometimes change requires very little in terms of practical resources, but a lot in terms of time of the individuals involved (i.e. to learn a new way to do things), lacking resources will make progress very slow and it’s very frustrating to see that everything is aligned and ready, but doesn’t progress.
  • False Starts → Lack of Action Plan: action plans don’t have to be too complicated, as small transformative changes can be done with little structure, yet, structure has to be there. For example it’s very useful to have one person to lead the charge, and everyone else agreeing they are the right person to make things happen

An interesting deck on the future of work.

Why don't clearly better products succeed in the marketplace? Maybe better isn't good enough:

The Delta 4 framework says that for a consumer product to have a chance at gaining traction, it must be at least four points superior to current solutions. The score is assessed by users ranking your product against alternatives on a scale of 1 to 10. If the difference (delta) is ≥4 compared with existing solutions, it’s indicative of a highly engaging and “sticky” product.

This 20-second practice will help you release stress – but only if you do it regularly:

Close your eyes and call to mind something about yourself that has been bothering you and making you feel unworthy, unloved or not enough and notice what arises in the body. Then we asked people to send kindness and warmth to themselves by placing one hand over the heart and another over the belly with the energy of giving themselves a hug and notice what arises in the body now. Next, we invited them to ask themselves, 'How can I be a friend to myself in this moment?' Finally we told them to open their eyes when they were ready."

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"Figure out what you're good at without trying, then try."Isabel
“The only measure of success is how much time you have to kill.” – Nassim Taleb
"The long run is just a collection of short runs you have to put up with." – Morgan Housel
"Smart people rarely change their mind, lest they look stupid. This is dangerous. The world is complicated & sometimes you get new data. Take pride in changing your mind often, especially on your most deeply held beliefs." – Jeff Bezos
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” – Daniel Gilbert
“Imagination is not an escape from reality, not a substitute for it, but a deeper engagement with it.” – Gary Lachman

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