“I did my best.”

Great! Was it any good? What are you going to do to make your best get better? This might be about: Improving concrete skills Working on your attitude Or the way you made others feel while you did your best Or working on the wrapper – the systems around the work you do – so that you can do more…

Resource: a16z podcast with Matt Abrahams on moderating talks, panels, meetings and more

This interview with Sonal Chokshi and Matt Abrahams is a useful listen. It’s loaded with specific techniques for presenting and for moderating discussions, whether in-person or online. They cover things like: Good meeting preparation and post-interview follow-up for different types of meeting; Thinking about the feelings you’re hoping to encourage in your audience as much as the information you’re hoping…

Compassion: suffering with

I was reminded this morning* of the etymology of “compassion”: com- meaning “with” and pati meaning “to suffer.” It’s the same pati we find in the word passion, and sort-of related to the Greek pathos, as in “sympathy,” “to feel with.”** Compassion, like physical pain, alerts us to the presence of something harmful (in this case in the lives of…

A well designed paper bag from Waitrose

Here’s a lesson in UX (User Experience) design from Waitrose, the UK supermarket chain. Waitrose: Here’s a nice little window so you can see the bread you’re buying. Me: That’s very helpful…Me after eating the bread: … but can I recycle it? Waitrose: Me: But what about the clear wind– oh, you’ve already answered that. Waitrose: And in case you’re…

On pushing through ambiguity

Ambiguity makes simple tasks hard. It often occurs when: You don’t know what’s required (at all), and don’t know how to find out You know who could tell you but can’t contact them The information you have is incomplete The information you have is unclear The information appears complete but you have reasons (experience, competing information, rumour) not to trust…

Michael Sandel and Sam Harris on meritocracy

This podcast is well worth listening too – Sandel and Harris frame the problems with meritocracy well even of they don’t quite get to a strong answer for another way of doing things. Here’s a snippet: Sam Harris: The paradox here is that the thing that’s under our control, the environment, if we perfectly timed that, if we gave everyone…

Delegation (2): the hardest part

Delegating well (speccing the task, sharing your overall intent, context and resources) is a vital skill. But the hardest most elusive, and most important part* is finding out what will make a person care enough to do something consistently well – or even to do it at all. Things like: They think it’s important too (because they already did) They…

Delegation template

A draft template of things to include when delegating something: The job in a sentence: (So that the delegatee immediately knows what’s going on) When it must be done by: (Good to know now, likely that they’ll refer back for this so it’s nice to have it at the top) Relevant background: As much context as is helpful – it…

Virginia Postrel on textiles and technology, nature and magic

Here’s a great highlight from a fascinating and very entertaining podcast from a16z: Textiles as Tech, Science, Math, Culture… or Civilization. Recommended. Sonal Chokshi: “We suffer textile amnesia because we enjoy textile abundance.” … Viginia Postrel: “This really has mostly happened in my lifetime – I’m sixty – where textiles have just become so abundant and so cheap that we…

Henri Nouwen on fear and scarcity

Fear is a pervasive quality of our lives. Fear makes us think in terms of scarcity. It makes us think “This is a dangerous world. How am I going to survive? There is not enough for everyone. There is not enough food for everyone. There is not enough knowledge for everyone. There is not enough affection and I want to…