Raj Chetty and Ezra Klein on culture, communities and representation

Ezra Klein: I think we’re very used to thinking about two levels of context that really matter here – what’s happening in your family, like “Is your dad or mum an inventor? Are your parents married?” and then what’s happening in government policy. And it seems to me that what you show is that this mediating space of your direct…

Steven Pinker on passing on language

Language is created anew every generation by the minds of the children who construct it out of the data that they get from their parents and peers. Steven Pinker – with Tyler Cowan, in Conversations with Tyler, Ep 14 The same could be said of culture in general, and team or organisational culture in particular. What data are you receiving?…

Specs, laws and floors

A spec sets standards and defines output, and laws set the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. They are indispensable, but here’s the thing: specs and laws are always floors. You can’t legislate the maximum. There is always an extra mile. There are unlimited extra miles in just about every direction. Once we’re meeting spec (within the law) and doing it consistently…

Networks: your organisation as an unending conversation

What would happen to your organisation or movement if you dropped out? If the answer is “It would probably die,” then you probably* need to think about building something bigger and longer lasting than yourself. One lens for understanding how to do this is to think of your organisation as ‘conversation’, drawing on Kenneth Burke’s metaphor for history and culture…

What’s the story? (1)

We’re always telling stories about who we are, where we’ve come from and where we going. We tell stories about what’s good and what’s bad, what should be and what shouldn’t. We tell ourselves stories about what’s possible and why and how, and about which things that will never happen, or which things we’ll (or they’ll) never be able to…

Resource: Seth Godin on Systems Thinking

Akimbo Season 4 Episode 20 (July 10, 2019) – Systems Thinking This is a great episode of riffs on how systems create – and constrain – possibilities, and the opportunities that open up when systems change. Featuring Mr Heinz and the fictional (!) Betty Crocker. Akimbo Season 4 Episode 18 (June 26, 2019) – Find the others: Apollo 11 and…

Friction (2): emotional friction

This is a different kind of friction: the uncertainty, delay and discomfort that comes from lack of trust or understanding. Like bureaucratic or procedural friction, emotional friction slows us down and makes things more difficult than they need to be. It takes many guises: The extra time we spend second-guessing and explaining ourselves because we’re worried someone will take what…

How to set salaries

Some ways of thinking about setting salaries: Market Rate You pay the lowest price that the market will bear. The bigger the market (the more appropriate candidates that you can reach), the lower the price is likely to be. This is commodity pricing: an average sort of price to attract average (or cheapest possible) candidates. Market-plus You pay the market…

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…