Stats: Tail. Dog.

Stats can help a lot – the right metrics are a sixth sense, helping you see through the fog and often giving substance to what your spider-sense is telling you about your organisation (or yourself).

Financial management is a good example – get your chart of accounts right and take the time to understand it and you’ll start to see things that might otherwise be invisible: surprising sources of profit, or things that cost way more than you thought they did and turn out to be liabilities, not assets.

Stats help you see the consequences of your practices now and where they’re likely to take you, allowing you to double down / change course in time to hit the jackpot / avoid the iceberg.

Stats are great. Unless…

Unless the thing you’re measuring becomes your primary concern – you become about the money, rather than who it allows you to serve.

It’s true of money. It’s true of views and visits. Your work isn’t for the money or the numbers. It’s for the people you seek to serve, for your colleagues and your customers.

So here’s an extra driverlesscrocolution: no jetpack (no stats) for a month, and hopefully better thinking, and better writing.

Motto (1): Be Kind

“Have fun, learn lots, work hard, be kind.”

If you’re not…

  • kind to others
  • spending time with people who are kind to you
  • doing work, reading stuff, making choices that will make you more kind, not less

… then really, what’s the point?

Kind doesn’t mean…

… weak, or passive, or bland. It doesn’t mean lazy, or soppy, or aimless.

Being kind is a choice, is often hard to do**, and will probably cost you. It might get you into a fight, but one you’ll be glad you showed up for.

We’re born…

…and we’ll die, and stuff of all kinds happens in the middle.

The stuff of kindness is what counts most at either end – and in fact, all the way through.

This post is for Peter – thanks for the reminder

** It’s usually hardest when it’s most important

Shortcuts: ladder or hack?

We’re all looking for shortcuts – ways to reach our destination at lower cost (time or money) and allow us to do more.

But how can we tell whether the shortcut is a ladder (a new way and better way to get our job done) or a hack – a shortcut that saves you time now but that you (or others) pay more for later?

Here are four questions to ask about shortcuts, courtesy of Seth Godin:

1. Is it repeatable? Non-repeatable shortcuts are interesting, but you can’t build a life or a future around them.

2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects of this shortcut? … I want to know that it’s not going to hurt me or hurt the people I care about it… or break our culture.

3. Is it additive? If I get to do it again, does it better over time?

4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?

The internet offers all of these short-term hacks, all these things that might make you feel like you’re winning in the short run, but often they don’t hold up to the light of day, they hurt you or other people, you can only do them once, and they’re not aligned with where you’re going and how you’re going to get there…

The long short-cuts are the best possible short-cuts.

Seth GodinAkimbo Sauce and Godiva

The trampoline: networks, standards and freedom

The network effect is powerful, and a source of tremendous value, and we need to understand how it works.

Networks depend on standardisation – a consistent, accepted standard for how computers talk to each other, or how all Lego bricks fit together, or how a community works – a shared language and set of expectations that make it easier to collaborate.

We need these norms – they allow us to communicate, to work together better and faster, to make assumptions, even to ignore each other in relative safety. Norms, the middle ground, are the gravity that holds us together, the board from which we spring.

And there’s the tension. Norms that are too numerous or too binding tie us down. Our instinct is to break free, but it’s a dance: without norms and standards (social-cultural, technological), we fall apart. There’s nothing to stand on, push off, be in tension with, break free from

Without springs and gravity there are no trampolines, and no difference between flying and falling.

Education for the future (5): tools and the wielder

Recap: a foundation for life

Education – formal education at least – is concerned with equipping people with tools: skills, knowledge and ideas that will empower them them to live a flourishing life and achieve their purposes in the world.

We’ve talked about the importance of sharing a vision of the flourishing life with our kids – the best that we are able to give – and a definition of success that includes writing their own definition.

We asked “Who are we empowering?” and looked at the importance of being aware that as we share knowledge and technical skills, we’re also shaping the people who will use them. Value-neutral education is impossible and undesirable – our kids need to learn values and ethics, and its far more important that they see these in action than hear them articulated, although both is best.

If we think of skills, knowledge and ideas as tools in a person’s hand, the questions so far are all about who will be wielding these powerful tools, and what we hope they’ll be wielding them for. 

Attributes

There’s a second set of important qualities I’m calling attributes. These are the qualities that determine how effectively a person might be able to use their tools for a given purpose. In ourselves and others, most of them lie within our influence but outside of our control. Here’s a shopping list, with a bit of repetition. The lines are blurry at best – values, attributes, and tools are very intertwingled – but I’m giving it a go.

  • A reflex to kindness
  • Determination – persistence – grit – and the will to succeed
  • A sense of hope
  • Mental robustness
  • Curiosity and a desire to learn
  • Creativity and resourcefulness
  • Integrity and ‘right honesty’ (blurring the line back into ethics here)
  • A love of fun
  • Physical health
  • Energy
  • Stamina
  • A positive but clear-eyed outlook – hope
  • Confidence
  • Focus
  • Patience
  • Positive regard and right respect for others
  • Empathy and compassion
  • An inclination towards teamwork and helping others
  • Reliability
  • Humility and the ability to receive help
  • Tact and social grace – courtesy and politeness
  • Self control
  • Diligence
  • Courage (“the virtue without which none of the other virtues matter”)
  • Assertiveness
  • Some balance between caring what others think and really not
  • Initiative
  • A sense of peace
  • A sense of humour
  • Gratitude

What have I missed?

**edited 05/12/2018 to add ‘a sense of humour’ – thanks to Mas K

A great place to work

More from Tom Peters – slides copied in with his encouragement to preserve the idiosyncratic formatting.*****

Tom Peters:

Richard Branson on the purpose of business:

More of these at tompeters.com and excellencenow.com

Datapoints

What the wizards at the various casinos have figured out how to do is wire up the slot machines so that they’re constantly playing with your need to feel lucky.

The slots don’t work the way they used to. First of all, the slot machine knows who you are, and what your history is. They’ve given you this card that promises all sorts of bonuses and prizes, but really it’s designed to allow the slot machine to play you like a violin.

Seth Godin – Akimbo – Games Matter

Data can be a powerful tool. Don’t use it like that.

After the transaction

This post was lost in the Crocapocalypse – I’m reposting it with its original date.

Ask yourself these questions about the transaction – the one you put so much groundwork into, pushed so hard to achieve, until finally, it happened.

Ask yourself:

Who are you? – have you changed?

Who are you with? – do you like the company you’re keeping?

Who – if anyone – won?

Who lost?

Was it worth it? – what did you give up to get here?

What happens next? – where will more transactions like this take you?

Education for the future: foundations (4)

This post was lost in the Crocapocalypse – I’m reposting it with its original date.

The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, with a hat-tip to the writers of The Second Machine Age

.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, with a hat-tip to the writers of The Second Machine Age

Teacher – how are your ethics?

I heard someone talking about driverless cars explain that the technical side of things was becoming almost inevitable. In a sense, solving the problem of how to get cars to drive themselves is on its way to being easy.

The hard part is helping the car to decide who to hit if it has an accident.

In an accident a human might have to choose: hit a bus or swerve to hit a car; hit a family on the pavement or a child crossing the road.

These are usually reflex decisions – there may be rights and wrongs but fear clouds judgement and the mistakes people make are inevitable – and ultimately forgivable.

But a car driven by a computer? They might be sent out of control by an accident, but still have billions of computational cycles to make their decision in the seconds before impact. So we can imagine that a driverless car faced with the situation described above could have time to see its options clearly and have time to evaluate them and make a meaningful choice.

What do we teach it to choose? The machine forces us to think harder about our moral choices, as things that weren’t real choices before become so.

And the same is true in education: as things happen faster, as the augmentations (more on augmentation later) expand our power and widen our reach, we ask with greater intensity: who are we empowering? How will they decide to use their power?

When John Acton said “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he was wrong, of course. We can’t hold that view and be in love the idea of empowerment at the same time.

Power doesn’t corrupt, per se, but it is an amplifier. Tools, technologies are amplifiers, multiplying the potential of what’s already there. The more powers we have, the more important the moral foundations of our humanity become.

Crikey, it’s Captain America all over again.