Taking the temperature

What do you do to keep an eye on how your team is doing – as individuals and a team? A less-structured meeting (or part of a regular meeting) can really help: a chance for everyone to check in, say what’s going well and what they’re struggling with, to let off steam, to ask for and offer help, to say…

Raising the average (2)

The basic principle is that when you’re recruiting, you should be seeking to raise the average of your team, bringing in people who increase the level of energy, skill, and possibilities available – and who raise the bar in terms of commitment to your aims and values. This is a helpful rule of thumb, but there are two problems with…

The Onion (2): a model for solving interesting problems

My first post about The Onion looked at interesting problems as systems of networked sub-problems, and suggested that our solutions will mirror this structure. The Onion is also a good metaphor for the process of finding practical solutions: we work from solving the smallest problems in theory, outwards to technical solutions, before we finally build a (networked system of) practical…

The Onion (1): understanding interesting problems

This post is a sketch of a way of thinking about how problems work, and what we need to do to make our solutions (“the change we seek to make”) effective. It’s bit abstract – I’ll share a more concrete illustration in a later post. We often talk about interesting problems as if they’re discrete units: How can I keep…

Seth Godin on transforming education

Seth Godin has written a lot about education – Stop Stealing Dreams (TED talk and longer e-book) is a good place to start. Then it’s worth checking out what he’s actually doing:  the altMBA reverses the usual 90+ percent drop-out rates of most online courses, and the Akimbo workshops (including The Marketing Seminar, The Bootstrapper’s Workshop and The Freelancer’s Workshop)…

Interesting problems: a definition

A problem is interesting when… 1. It’s important to someone Presumably because solving it will make things better.* The problem won’t be important to everyone, so by definition it won’t be interesting to everyone either. The problem will be valuable in proportion to the number of people it is important to, and how intensely they feel its importance. This means…

Responsibility

Whether you’re improving your own work or helping others improve theirs,* it pays to spend time talking about who is responsible for what – and what you hope people will take responsibility for as they grow into their roles. There are layers of responsibility. 1) Given all the necessary inputs… Do you take responsibility for getting your job done? 2)…

Seth Godin on recruiting: raise the average

That next person you hire – are you lowering the average, or raising the average? ‘Cause if you’re lowering the average of your team because you’re in a hurry, when are you going to stop lowering the average of your team? How low does the average of your team go before it’s over? On the other hand, anytime you can…

WhatsAppterview

I love WhatsApp voice messages. Through the wonder of the voice message (and especially after the introduction of the wonderful voice-record lock) I have better conversations with more of my friends – many of whom I only rarely catch face-to-face – than I have done for a while. Asynchronous or semi-synchronous (those flurries of messages back and forth in almost-real-time)…

They’re (not quite) taking our jobs: Tim Harford on robots, spreadsheets and automation in the workplace

These are two great episodes from the BBC’s excellent 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy. Episode: Robot The robots are coming! Sort of. Featuring Baxter and the Jennifer headset.More on Baxter here at WIRED. Episode: Spreadsheet Fantastic discussion of how the humble spreadsheet destroyed over 400,000 American jobs… and helped to create 600,000 more.