Idea Surplus Disorder #68

In this week's edition, a nonprofit SuperCollider in July, some Filamental wisdom, manifestos, blank sheets, thinking in sets, imitators, doodles, eggcorns, Excel Olympians, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #68

Good morning, and happy Monday.

In this week's edition, a nonprofit SuperCollider in July, some Filamental wisdom, manifestos, blank sheets, thinking in sets, imitators, doodles, eggcorns, Excel Olympians, and more.

Love this newsletter? Here's how you can engage with me more:

SuperCollider for Nonprofits

We're doing a nonprofit-only SuperCollider on Friday, July 12th. We'll cover the Thinksgiving application process, challenge building, and do a super-cool New Skills For Work on ways better questions can drive your strategy. If you lead or work for a nonprofit, register here.

Filamental Wisdom

Call failure "tuition." It encourages your team to embrace the lessons, and not shame the costs – so long as you don't "pay" to take the same class twice.

Ideas + Insights

Not all prices are measured in money:

Most things worth pursuing charge their fee in the form of stress, uncertainty, dealing with quirky people, bureaucracy, other peoples’ conflicting incentives, hassle, nonsense, long hours, and constant doubt. That’s the overhead cost of getting ahead. A lot of times that price is worth paying. But you have to realize that it’s a price that must be paid. There are few coupons, and sales are rare.

I'm really enjoying this guide on how to write a manifesto, and I know I'll come back to it again and again – particularly the advice on writing an S-Shaped one:

This shape got its name because of the path that you take the listener on. I picture the start of the journey being at the top right of the “S”, then a sinuous path all the way to the bottom left.
During that trip, you have a lot of work to do. You need to establish a problem they’ve never thought about before, share with them what you believe, demonstrate why the status quo is bad, show how it can be different, then get them excited about that difference.
It’s a long walk. But if you do it right, this can be the best manifesto to get people excited about a big idea.

There's lots to chew in in Gensler's Global Workplace Report, including:

  • 81% of workers in ‘strong teams’ say they often sit with their team when they’re in the office (and that this is their main reason to come into the office), compared to just 50% of those in the weakest teams. As a consequence, they are also almost twice as likely to be aware of what their teammates are working on
  • Just 35% of the least engaged individuals report that learning & development are critical to perform their job, compared to 71% of the most engaged
  • 98% of employees in high performing teams report regularly eating lunch with colleagues

You aren't slower than your competitors, you just don't get to see all their false starts and failures before their success:

Because biographies of famous scientists tend to edit out their mistakes, we underestimate the degree of risk they were willing to take. And because anything a famous scientist did that wasn't a mistake has probably now become the conventional wisdom, those choices don't seem risky either.

I just saw this Innovation-Killing Bad Habit again last week:

Innovation is siloed from Execution: Companies struggle to get the “execution engine” and “innovation engine” to collaborate, rather than to compete. Rather than realizing that managing the present and inventing the future are equally important and should be equally resourced, they often fight for the same resources. Often the execution engine deprives the innovators from access to valuable resources like customers, brand, or skills. That means the innovators end up competing without any competitive advantage against the more nimble and agile startups.
Remedy: Create a culture where executors and innovators collaborate because they understand each other’s value to the organization. Create processes and incentives that grant innovators access to customers, brands, and skills so they can outcompete the more nimble and agile startup ventures.

Want to collaborate creatively? PowerPoint less and doodle more:

First I asked everyone in the audience to individually draw a marketing idea as a doodle complete with stick figures. Second I asked them to exchange that drawing with someone around them.
That second request caused a mild panic. The idea of sharing a sketchy, unpolished drawing with a colleague is fear-inducing. But that’s exactly the state and stage that ideas are best shared with colleagues — when they’re unformed and half-baked, not when they’re polished and perfect in a lengthy slide presentation. I think the fear of sharing ideas at this embryonic stage is part of what gets in the way of collaborating inside an organization.
I asked everyone to build on their colleagues’ back-of-the-envelope sketches with more drawing and then return them. I don’t think that simple informal exchange of ideas happens enough in business.

How can you distinguish Imitators vs. Experts:

Imitators get frustrated when you say you don’t understand. That frustration is a result of being overly concerned with the appearance of expertise—which they might not be able to maintain if they have to really get into the weeds with an explanation. Real experts have earned their expertise and are excited about trying to share what they know. They aren’t frustrated by your lack of understanding; they love your genuine curiosity about something they care about.
Experts can tell you all the ways they’ve failed. They know and accept that some form of failure is often part of the learning process. Imitators, however, are less likely to own up to mistakes because they’re afraid it will tarnish the image they’re trying to project.

I f-ing knew it: swearing lowers stress.

Learn better with the Blank Sheet method:

This approach enhances comprehension, retention, and critical thinking, enabling you to develop unique insights and connect ideas across disciplines. It’s not just about reading better; it’s about becoming a more effective learner and thinker. 1. Before reading, write what you know about the subject on a blank sheet. 2. After each reading session, add new information in a different color. 3. Review the sheet before your next reading session. 4. Store completed sheets in a binder for periodic review. (Hint: I often re-write them for clarity).

Here's a great planning question we're adding to our quiver:

What assumptions or predictions are behind our choices and what is our degree of certainty in them?

You'll get more buy-in when you prompt people to think in sets:

Simply present assignments, requests, or items as arbitrary sets, rather than as individual units. New research reveals that people are irrationally but effectively motivated by the idea of completing a set, even if it means working harder or spending more money—with no additional reward other than the satisfaction of completion and the relief of avoiding an incomplete set. Imagine arriving at your boss’s summer BBQ and presenting her with five beers in a box designed to hold six. No matter that your favorite craft beer store permits you buy bottles one at a time. Chances are you’d still buy six, just to fill all six spaces in the box.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"I must change my life so that I can live it, not wait for it." – Susan Sontag
"If you’re going to measure hours, the ones worth measuring are the ones you don’t waste, not the ones you spend." – Jason Fried
"The best decisions made in time-pressured situations are those we have prepared for in advance." – Frank Partnoy
"When you choose a new value, you are choosing to introduce a new form of pain into your life. Welcome it with open arms. Then act despite it." – Mark Manson
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from." – Cormac McCarthy
"Those closest to a given technology are least likely to predict its given use." - Joi Ito
‘Humility is not thinking less of your self, but thinking of your self less.’ – Joshua Medcalf
"People don't think small alone. They think small in groups." – Julie Gurner
"Do not mistake a confident explanation for an accurate prediction." – James Clear

Subscribe to Idea Surplus Disorder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.