In this edition: another N.S.F.W., de-cloudifying your vision, brainstorming questions, ignoring your phone, card tricks, afternoon fun, and more.
- Our next New Skills For Work is April 24th. We're going to focus on better ways to brainstorm.
- The Facilitator's Forum is our invite-only group that's like an "open mic night" for experienced facilitators. We'll share best practices, and each session will have time for attendees to test something with the group they'd like to try at work. The first one is May 18th, and you can apply here.
- We've got a business book club with a creative twist coming soon. Look for more info next week.
Ideas + Insights
When you have an amazing vision, don't cloud it up with language written by committee:
There will come a day when you'll come up with some brilliant theory or concept and want it to spread and stick. You want to lay claim to that idea. It's then that you'll want to set aside some time to state it distinctively, even if you're not a gifted rhetorician. A memorable turn of phrase need not incorporate sophisticated techniques like parataxis or polysyndeton. Most everyone in tech is familiar with Marc Andreessen's "software is eating the world" and Stewart Brand's "information wants to be free." Often mere novelty is enough to elevate the mundane. You've spent all that time cooking your idea, why not spend an extra few moments plating it? It all tastes the same in your mouth but one dish will live on forever in an Instagram humblebrag pic.
Brainstorming ideas and solutions together is an extremely popular activity because it feels collaborative and creativity-enhancing even when it’s really not. Research has shown group brainstorming to be a waste of time. In addition, brainstorming ideas is often anti-collaborative. Everyone secretly, or not so secretly, wants their contribution to "win". And once you frame an exercise as “there are no bad ideas”, well, that’s how you get ants, and really bad ideas that make it out into the world because no one wants to be the bummer or stick their neck out or kill that one lovely darling that already made it into a prototype so we might as well ship it. The Emperor's New Clothes plays out on the daily.
“A quick and effective fix is to stop brainstorming ideas with your team, and start brainstorming questions instead. Getting together and listing every question you can think of about a problem, a process, or a situation is uncomfortable at first, and then in very short order enhances collaboration, decreases risk, and puts you on the path to being a learning organization.”
Want better relationships at work and at home? Put the phone down:
Everyone knows that it’s rude to look at your phone in the presence of others, but we still do it. Why? Because we believe that we’re better multitaskers. We underestimate the impact of our faux pas because we feel more justified and capable of doing it.
To check how inclusive your team is, start documenting whose input is included and valued while making decisions:
Ensuring that different perspectives from members of different groups are truly leveraged in organizational decision-making is critical for any company that is serious about promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion and, by extension, driving innovation and organizational performance. Specifically, based on our consulting and research on DEI for organizations across a variety of industries around the world, we believe that companies need to look critically at how and by whom decisions are made and to investigate whether ideas generated and expressed by employees who are part of different demographic groups all have an equal chance to affect organizational decision-making.
Even your boss hates most of their meetings:
Executives spend about 25 hours per week in meetings, the survey revealed, and approximately 46% of them could be scrapped without a loss of productivity. Leaders attend so many meetings because they're afraid they'll miss critical information, they believe it will be an effective use of time, and simply for optics, the survey found.
Want good reviews? Don't ask for them when the weather's bad:
[B]ad weather (i) induces negative consumer mood, lowering rating scores, and (ii) makes consumers less time-constrained, which increases review provision.
In the context of Gmail and collaborative documents, we see suggestions of automation processes at war with one another, feeding problems that must be solved with more automation as Google manufactures demand for its own mitigating products. It’s an arms race in every inbox! It’s textual hyperinflation in every office! It’s a hundred meetings a day scheduled and attended and summarized by bots!
WTF this Company Do? Enter a domain name, and get a biz summary for any company.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins gives a masterclass on his most iconic films.
Astounding card trick from the late Ricky Jay.
The afternoon fun economy. It's 3:00 pm on a Wednesday. Golf anyone?
Words of Wisdom
“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” – Bertrand Russell
Those who want to become a master in their craft are best advised to find themselves an eager student or two. – Jurgen Appelo
"Everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own." – Donella Meadows
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." – Anais Nin
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." – George Bernard Shaw