Issue #4

In this edition: New Skills for Work, how to worry well, why the bullies are back, when explorers make bad leaders, dark optimism, apricity, calligraphy, and more.

Welcome to Idea Surplus Disorder.  I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

In this edition: New Skills for Work, how to worry well, why the bullies are back, when explorers make bad leaders, dark optimism, apricity, calligraphy, and more.

Next Tuesday, (February 21, 2023), we're reprising our workshop New Skills For Work.  You'll learn how to think differently about your meetings and use Filament's Meeting Canvas to make every meeting better.  It's free to attend, and you can RSVP here.

Ideas + Insights

Better problem-solvers worry well:

Worrying well is about tapping into the wisdom of real or imagined people, you can turn your negative worry into a positive one—whether a worry you accept, if the circumstances are out of your control, or one you can take action upon.

I love this mission of the Centre for the Less Good Idea:

Often, you start with a good idea, It might seem crystal clear at first, but when you take it off the proverbial drawing board, cracks and fissures emerge in its surface, and they cannot be ignored. It is in following the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks, that the Centre nurtures, arguing that in the act of playing with an idea, you can recognise those things you didn’t know in advance but knew somewhere inside of you.

Rethinking in-person work means rethinking everything:

We have introduced dynamic scheduling for everything we do now based on occupancy. We started doing it with postage-stamp-size sensors in the simplest form under a desk that says if someone was there. Or if nobody has been there, let's not clean it. So you start to shift the janitorial, which is a big cost, by the way. Then you start to get predictive about what space is used, when you can be more directive about where you put people. From a sustainability perspective, it's about being able to turn off an entire floor by filling a building up more intentionally.

Well, this kinda sucks: in distributed work, the bullies are back:

It’s easier to be mean when you’re hiding behind a screen. Hybrid and remote work also potentially make it easier to exclude individuals—keeping people out of a Slack channel is less of a challenge than keeping them out of a meeting room.
In addition to forcing employees out of the office, the pandemic also moved people out from under the watchful eyes of their supervisors.  That employees were still productive without being watched (read: controlled) has put some bosses on the defensive. Increased employee freedom ... drives the insecure people, already behind a lot of the bullying, crazy.

Do you miss your commute, too?

Commutes are a source of "liminal space" – a time free of both home and work roles that provides an opportunity to recover from work and mentally switch gears to home.
During the shift to remote work, many people lost this built-in support for these important daily processes. Without the ability to mentally shift gears, people experience role blurring, which can lead to stress. Without mentally disengaging from work, people can experience burnout.

Wondering how you might show up better every day to your team, friends, and family?  Ask this question:

"What is it about me that other people would change if they could?”

Need to write a business plan?  Try ChatGPT.  After feeding it your business idea, ask it questions like you would a mentor, like:

What are the 5 biggest weaknesses that you see in this idea? You’ll get some obvious answers and maybe a few surprises you hadn’t thought of. You can follow up with: How can I modify my idea to overcome [selected weaknesses]?
What customer segments should I pursue as the highest priority based on their size, need, discretionary income, and being overlooked by competitors? Be as specific as possible.
Write out 15 questions that I can ask potential customers in a market research survey. Recommend specific text I should use in each survey question, as well as the suggested question format, such as multiple choice, short answer, ranking, and so on.
What would the day-to-day operations of this business look like? Describe in detail 5 of the main workflows, such as [onboarding a new partner, having a customer set up a new service, or customer cancelling account].

Why "explorers" make bad leaders:

Explorers poke through the unknown, experimenting, trying many little dead-ends. Explorers meander, constantly changing directions based on hunch, mood, and curiosity. Explorers are hard to follow. It’s better to let them wander alone, then hear their tales.
Leaders are easy to follow. Leaders say, “Here’s where we’re going. Here’s why this will improve your life. Here’s how we’re going to get there. Let’s go.”  Leaders sell the dream. Leaders describe the destination clearly and simply so it’s easy to understand and repeat. Even someone in the back of the pack, that can’t hear the leader, can follow along.

Dark Optimism is the ability to acknowledge and confront the challenging aspects of our current situation, while also maintaining a profound belief in human potential.

“We are unashamedly positive about what kind of a world humanity could create, and unashamedly realistic about how far we are from creating it today.” – Shaun Chamberlin

A Bit of Fun

"Apricity" is the warmth of the sun in winter creates a downloadable digital signature (or anything else you'd like to "hand-write") that you can customize by style, legibility, and speed.

WordMom helps find words by starting/ending letters, patterns, length, or category.

The Cabinet of Wikipedian Curiosities is filled with interestingness.

Yes, this is the way.


“You will hear many people saying: ‘When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; when I am sixty I shall give up public duties.’ And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren’t you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life, and to devote to wisdom only that time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end!” – Seneca.
"History shows that innovation is a delicate and vulnerable flower, easily crushed underfoot, but quick to regrow if conditions allow." – Matt Ridley
"There seemed to be endless obstacles preventing me from living with my eyes open, but as I gradually followed up clue after clue it seemed that the root cause of them all was fear." – Marion Milner
"The most important thing creators do is work. The most important thing they don’t do is quit." – Kevin Ashton
"Rich people have money. Wealthy people have time." – Shane Parish
“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.”​ – Arthur Schopenhauer
“The most valuable real estate in the world is the graveyard. There lie millions of half-written books, ideas never launched, and talents never developed. Most people die with everything still inside of them. The way to live is to create. Die empty. Get every idea out of your head and into reality. Calling yourself creative doesn’t make it true. All that matters is what you’ve launched. Make finishing your top priority.” – Derek Sivers

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