Values in tension (2): resource allocation

How we allocate our scarce resources – particularly money, time and attention – shines a bright light on how we prioritise between values. Most of us can have most of the things we value: wealth, physical beauty, time to ourselves, family, a sense of meaningful contribution, a fabulous car, deep friendships, fitness, artistic accomplishment, solidarity with those who have less,…

Nothing precious (tools for the job)

Of course you want good quality tools. Definitely not the cheapest available. (These usually get in your way.) Probably not the most expensive. (These usually take you out of the 80/20 performance/price sweet-spot.) You want things that are highly functional: free from frills (or bells, or whistles) but still designed and executed in such a way that it they give…

The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…

Two questions mid-Covid

For any of the things you do… What don’t you / your customers miss about doing this in person? What do you / they miss? Whatever “real life” looks like in the coming months, it will help if the things we’re glad to see the back of stay gone, or stay at a minimum. Losing these things is likely to…

Operationalising culture

It’s important to think and talk about your values – to know what’s important to you, why you do what you do, and how you want people in your team to relate to each other and to the work you do. Then you have to live out these values – apply and embody them, demonstrate their importance and their worth,…

Some questions

Who for? Who will you serve? What do you think they need, what do they want, and what story will you tell to align the two with what you offer? What contextual factors and wider systems do you need to take into account? How far? Which pieces of the puzzle will you take responsibility for? What will you do to…

68 of the best from Kevin Kelly

This is a fun list from KK celebrating his 68th birthday. Among them: • Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.…• Treating a person to a meal never fails, and is so easy to do. It’s powerful with old friends and a great way to make new friends.…• Don’t trust all-purpose glue.…• If you are looking for something in your…

The Mundanity of Excellence (3): technique, discipline, attitude

The Mundanity of Excellence is a 1989 paper by sociologist Daniel Chambliss. In it he draws on his ethnographic research among elite swimmers – and his wider experiences as a swimming coach – to explore the meaning and causes of excellence, and particularly to question the role (indeed, the existence) that talent plays in outstanding performance. Excellence in competitive swimming…

The Mundanity of Excellence (2): demystifying talent

The Mundanity of Excellence is a 1989 paper by sociologist Daniel Chambliss. In it he draws on his ethnographic research among elite swimmers – and his wider experiences as a swimming coach – to explore the meaning and causes of excellence, and particularly to question the role (indeed, the existence) that talent plays in outstanding performance. … I am suggesting…