Seth Godin on difficult conversations

I highly recommend this week’s excellent episode of Akimbo about Difficult Conversations. Here’s my summary: There are lots of conversations that we think of as “difficult”: telling someone you manage that you’re not happy with their performance; complaining about customer service; asking a friend to change their behaviour. We often find having these conversations hard and even avoid having them…

Neil Gaiman on reading fiction, empathy and changing the world

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn…

Commitment: their actual lives

This might be your life’s work. It might be a side project. But as you work – doing something to help, perhaps hiring people to work with you, apportioning your time and attention between competing people and priorities – remember that these are people’s actual lives. And yours. Be as clear as possible about your commitment and its costs, and…

“What should I do?”

If you desperately need a job, you are just another problem for a boss; if you can solve many of the problems the boss has right now, you are hired. To be hired, think like your boss. Kevin Kelly – 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice A hierarchy of task-related competence and maturity: We have opposite intentions. I will not do…

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…

Vitalstatistix: 5000+

Yesterday (7th May 2020) DriverlessCroc hit 5,002 views, not counting views via email or from RSS readers. The last thousand views (from 3,000 views on 14th November 2019 to 4,000 views on 25th February 2020) took 103 days at 9.7 views per day. The most recent thousand took 73 days at 13.7 views per day. In November I speculated that…

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…

Organisational culture: specifying minimums, modelling maximums

A while ago a friend helpfully pointed out to me that laws and rules can only ever specify the minimum behaviour acceptable in a given context. The law is (we hope) the floor, beyond which things are not allowed to go. But you can’t legislate good behaviour – all the things that make a culture rich and life-giving. That comes…

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…