Everyone is Special

June 12, 2014

Found this interesting article on national grand narratives (ht Mick Costigan): It follows that understanding a country’s exceptionalism narrative is key to anticipating how public opinion might move or be moved there, or to communicating effectively with the people of that country. Lack of this understanding makes it all but inevitable that U.S. statesmen and […]

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The Rumsfeld Behavioral Landscape

June 5, 2014

I made up an interesting way to visualize habits, routines and larger behavioral complexes in terms of Rumsfeld’s famous known, known-unknown and unknown-unknown typology. Here’s how it works. Your basic building block is a habit, and these are either built around attractors or repulsors (the green and red contour sets respectively, with the green representing […]

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Frustration Effects and Curse of Optimality

May 19, 2014

Let’s say you have a project to staff with three available roles: a leadership role P with power, a sexy role S with opportunity for high public visibility, and a grinder role G with a lot of tedious schlepping. For logistics reasons, the partitioning of the work is not negotiable. You have three people with […]

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Two Examples of Narrative Time

May 10, 2014

In the last week, I came across two interesting examples of what I called narrative time (as opposed to clock time) in Tempo. The first is this interesting analysis of the creative potential of tempo in the pacing of episode-releases in television shows, now that they have been decoupled from clock time by on-demand technology (HT Kartik Agaram). […]

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Reboot Travel vs. Pause Travel

March 10, 2014

I find that traveling is one of the most disruptive things in my ability to keep my workflows in reasonable order. Over the years, I’ve oscillated between two modes of travel, which I call reboot travel and pause travel. Reboot travel in the ideal case involves getting to Inbox Zero, clearing all pending time-bound work at your home base, […]

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Packaging-Heavy Projects

February 24, 2014

I posted earlier about discovery-heavy projects that are front-loaded with input firehoses. The complementary kind of project is one that has a lot of messy complexity near the finish line. I call these packaging-heavy projects. An example is writing a book. The hard work from the 0-90% mark is relatively clean and easy to structure. […]

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Running Lean, Running Fat

February 10, 2014

The term lean has become way too overloaded with complex management ideologies and procedural scaffolding. This is one reason I have come to dislike it. Leanness is a variable in a process optimization model, not an ideology. Cutting the fat is not an unqualified good idea and can actually be dangerous. Lean as ideology often turns into […]

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Discovery-Heavy Projects

January 27, 2014

I don’t like processing huge fire-hoses of complex, poorly structured and somewhat arbitrary information, but I am good enough at it, mainly because I’ve had a lot of practice. I call these discovery-heavy projects. They require three cognitive skills: Triage Skill: Simple information, such as a shoe-box of family photographs, can usually be categorized rapidly within […]

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When Finishing is Easier than Starting

January 13, 2014

When you are young, beginning new projects is easy and finishing them is hard. As you grow older, beginnings get harder, but finishing gets easier. At least, that has been my experience. I think it is true of anyone of at least average intelligence, creativity and emotional resilience. The reason is simple. When you are young, the […]

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New Year’s Resolutions as Self-Directed Camp

December 30, 2013

I’ve written a couple of whimsical posts about resolutions in the past, but I can’t bring myself to write about them seriously. Resolutions are not serious. Not anymore. I vaguely recall reading old novels whose characters took them seriously, but in our time, New Year’s resolutions are widely regarded as a joke. Very few expect to actually […]

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