Idea Surplus Disorder #61

In this edition: SuperCollider is this Friday, job crafting, uncertainty vs. ambiguity, strategic questions, me-as-a-service, WTF notebooks, eclectic playlists, lickable periodic tables, group rituals, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #61

Good morning, and welcome to another Idea Surplus Disorder.

In this edition: SuperCollider Friday, job crafting, uncertainty vs. ambiguity, strategic questions, rhymes, me-as-a-service, WTF notebooks, eclectic playlists, lickable periodic tables, group rituals, and more.

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

SuperCollider is May 3rd

Our first public SuperCollider is Friday, May 3rd, in Cortex. It is a team-focused experience that combines learning, co-working, collaboration, and giving back. Here's an overview from our friends and partners at CIC.

If you can't make it for the whole day (0r don't have a team to bring), you can still attend Friday's New Skills For Work, where we'll share a way to build a simple, question-centered strategy that focuses on agility and experimentation.

Sign up for SuperCollider here.

Ideas + Insights

Assuming your team knows your strategy (do they, really?), these are some great questions to ask:

How do you think our competitors will respond to our strategy?
What do you think is the strategy of [our biggest competitor]? How should we respond to them based on our strategy?
What do you think our competitors do better than us? How should that impact our strategy?
What makes us different than our competitors? How can we take advantage of that as part of our strategy?
What current market trends do you see that apply to our strategy? How can we use them to our advantage? 
Which current market trends are you concerned about? How could they hurt or negatively impact our strategy? 

This playbook on fixing an "everything is important, but nothing's getting done" culture is worth the long read.

Don’t battle your discomfort is good advice for all of us as we age:

We humans waste so much energy trying to avoid potential discomfort. Often, the energy we spend avoiding something is much more unpleasant than the discomfort itself. The paradox is that the power of the unwanted diminishes if you can find a way to embrace it instead of avoiding it. This applies to getting older. If you can approach your increasing age with awareness, acceptance and affection, you will be better able to adapt and flow with the changes of life. Accepting the things you cannot change is not straightforward, but you can learn to master this acceptance over time – at least to some extent.

There's a ton of great advice in this post about ways to impact on an organization in your first 90 days.

Treat your email like laundry:

People need to approach email like they do their dryer. Decide that it’s time to empty the dryer, get everything out, put things into piles, fold things, and then put them away.

Filament (at least when we launched) felt like Me-As-A-Service.

We've tried this at Filament with mixed results, but I wonder how letting employees define their jobs might work for bigger organizations:

Job crafting represents a paradigm shift in how we think about work and employee engagement. By empowering employees to tailor their jobs to fit their personal strengths, passions, and values, organizations can unlock a wealth of benefits, from increased productivity and innovation to improved employee well-being and retention. For managers looking to build a more dynamic, engaged, and adaptable workforce, job crafting is an approach well worth considering.

We not only remember info better when it rhymes but also think the information those rhymes contain is more accurate:

Let’s say you are trying to remember the name of someone you met just once. Without any hints or pointers, you have nearly infinite options for your mind to dizzily guess its way through. But, with a rhyme, there are fewer. The path leads to only one or a few places. For example, “That man was so grave, and his name was [blank].” Only a few mnemonic options fill in that blank.
They discovered that not only did participants aesthetically prefer the rhyming sentences, they more often than not thought them more accurate. Despite participants agreeing that aesthetic qualities don’t bestow truth, they couldn’t avoid their own biases. This led the team to call it the “Keats heuristic” after the poet John Keats’s line: “Beauty is truth; truth is beauty.” It turns out that we are inclined to not only retain rhymes better but value them more highly as well.

Planning doesn't always have to involve doing more. Instead, focus on answering the question, "What will we decide not to do?"

Planning is an additive process at most startups. “Let’s do this and this and this. Forget anything? OK, let’s add that, too!” To sharpen your focus, add a subtractive element. When you discuss something and decide not to do it, capture that in a not-on-list list. Think: here’s the list of things we decided to do, and here’s a list of things we considered and decided not to do. It will both help your current focus and shorten subsequent debate.'

What's the difference between uncertainty and ambiguity?

If I cannot tell you precisely the demand for a potential innovation next year, then that is uncertainty; if I don’t even know for which market it may be suitable, that is ambiguity. With uncertainty, you at least know the options, but you may not have all the information you need to estimate which options are most attractive; with ambiguity, you have not yet discovered the options.

I enjoyed these life tips, including:

  • Some people create drama out of habit. You can avoid these people.
  • When you ask people, “What’s your favorite book/movie/band?” and they stumble, ask them instead what book/movie/band they’re currently enjoying most. They’ll almost always have one and be able to talk about it.
  • Some types of sophistication won’t make you enjoy the object more, they’ll make you enjoy it less. For example, wine snobs don’t enjoy wine twice as much as you, they’re more keenly aware of how most wine isn’t good enough. Avoid sophistication that diminishes your enjoyment.

Whenever you start a job, keep a WTF Notebook:

Every time I join a new team, I go to the next fresh page, and on top of that page I write: "WTF - [Team Name]." Then I make a note every time I run into something that makes me go "wtf," and a task every time I come up with something I want to change.

This is a fun icebreaker to kick off your next team meeting:

If you had a personal chef coming over to make you dinner (and money is not an issue) what would you ask them to prepare for you?

Co-created group rituals can make teams feel more purpose at work:

In one experiment, Norton and colleagues brought a group of strangers into the lab and challenged them to come up with as many uses as possible for a six-sided die. Before the task, each group performed a ritual involving patting their shoulders and stomping their feet. Some groups performed the tasks facing one another, creating a collective ritual, while others performed the activities facing away from one another, creating a more individual ritual. Afterward, the researchers interviewed participants and found that the simple act of performing a ritual together made participants feel like the brainstorming task was more meaningful.

Fun Finds

Words Of Wisdom

“Scarcity is the one thing you can never have enough of." – Marc Randolph
"Writing is nature's way of telling us how lousy our thinking is." — Leslie Lamport
“It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it.” — Glenn Gould
"There are two things nobody can give you: curiosity and drive." – James Clear
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone." – Robin Williams
One can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." – Edith Wharton
"Selfish people should listen to advice to be more selfless, selfless people should listen to advice to be more selfish. This applies to many things. Whenever you receive advice, consider its opposite as well. You might be filtering out the advice you need most." – Connor Barnes

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