Archive for October, 2010

should vs want, can you resist?

Procrastination… a present bias and an empathy gap

“Thinking about thinking, this is the key. In the struggle between should versus want, some people have figured out something crucial – want never goes away.

Procrastination is all about choosing want over should because you don’t have a plan for those times when you can expect to be tempted.

You are really bad at predicting your future mental states. In addition, you are terrible at choosing between now or later. Later is murky place where anything could go wrong.”

and a great way to think about getting productive

“Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.”

Leave a Comment

how important is prioritization?

Mark Pincus, Zynga;

One of the most important things a manager can do on weekly basis is ruthlessly focus on prioritization. There’s never any lack of good ideas. Every team has 10 great ideas they’re really excited about. The problem is picking which of the 2 or 3 to focus on.

The lesson we get over and over again is a small number of features really connect with the users and get explosive results. You actually have diminishing returns with more features. When you’re picking the right features to go deep on, the user starts to have this trust and expectation that the next thing you bring out is going to be great.

No matter how big or how small your company is, you are always resource constrained. If you talk to Microsoft, or Google, or Yahoo–the biggest companies with the most engineers–every product manager will say they’re resource constrained. If they just could have twice the people, they could get everything done. No matter where you are, you have to be ruthless about how you’re using people. “

Leave a Comment

12 axioms for life?

Zurich Axioms by Max Gunther – great advice from Wall Street that can be applied to a number of walks of life.

The First Major Axiom on Risk

Worry is not a sickness but a sign of health. If you are not worried, you are not risking enough.

Minor 1 : Always play for meaningful stakes.
Minor 2 : Resist the allure of diversification

The Second Major Axiom on Greed

Always take a profit too soon.

Minor 3 : Decide in advance what gain you want from a venture, and when you get it, get out.

The Third Major Axiom on Hope

When the ship starts to sink, don’t pray. Jump.

Minor 4 : Accept small loses cheerfully as a fact of life. Expect to experience several while you are awaiting a large gain.

The Fourth Major Axiom on Forecasts

Human behaviour cannot be predicted. Distrust anyone who claims to know the future, however dimly.

The Fifth Major Axiom on Patterns

Chaos is not dangerous until it begins to look orderly.

Minor 5 : Beware the historians trap.
Minor 6 : Beware the chartist’s illusion.
Minor 7 : Beware the Correlations and Causality Delusions.
Minor 8 : Beware the gambler’s fallacy.

The Sixth Major Axiom on Mobility

Avoid putting down roots. They impede motion.

Minor 9 : Do not become trapped in a souring venture because of sentiments like loyalty and nostalgia.
Minor 10 : Never hesitate to abandon a venture if something more attractive comes in to view.

The Seventh Major Axiom on Intuition

A hunch can be trusted if it can be explained.

Minor 11 :Never confuse a hunch with hope.

The Eighth Major Axiom on Religion and the Occult

It is unlikely that god’s plan for the universe includes making you rich.

Minor 12 : If astrology worked all astrologers would be rich.
Minor 13 : A superstition need not be exorcised. It can be enjoyed, provided that it is kept in its place.

The Ninth Major Axiom on Optimism and Pessimism

Optimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.

The Tenth Major Axiom on Consensus

Disregard the majority opinion. It is probably wrong.

Minor 14 : Never follow speculative fads. Often the best time to buy something is when nobody else wants it.

The Eleventh Major Axiom on Stubbornness

If it doesn’t pay off the first time, forget it.

Minor 15 : Never try to save a bad investment by ‘averaging down’

The Twelfth Major Axiom on Planning

Long range plans engender the dangerous belief that the future is under control. It is important never to take you own long range plans or other people’s seriously.

Minor 16 : Shun long term investments

Leave a Comment

what does it take to be a visionary?

According to Marcia Wieder, founder of the Dream University, visionaries;

  • Have a big dream,
  • Can articulate the vision with clarity so that people know what it is,
  • Have a passion, and can create passion in others,
  • They enrol people in to the vision.

Leave a Comment

complexity kills

Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration.

And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.”

Ray Ozzie, dawn of a new day

Leave a Comment

we need to think more about thinking

"To make better decisions, we need to think more about thinking."

–James Montier

Think Watson’s RED model of critical thinking’

Recognize Assumptions

This is the ability to separate fact from opinion. It is deceptively easy to listen to a comment or presentation and assume the information presented is true even though no evidence was given to back it up. Noticing and questioning assumptions helps to reveal information gaps or unfounded logic. Taking it a step further, when we examine assumptions through the eyes of different people (e.g., the viewpoint of different stakeholders), the end result is a richer perspective on a topic.

Evaluate Arguments

The art of evaluating arguments entails analyzing information objectively and accurately, questioning the quality of supporting evidence, and understanding how emotion influences the situation. Common barriers include confirmation bias, or allowing emotions-yours or others-to get in the way of objective evaluation. People may quickly come to a conclusion simply to avoid conflict. Being able to remain objective and sort through the validity of different positions helps people draw more accurate conclusions.

Draw Conclusions

People who possess this skill are able to bring diverse information together to arrive at conclusions that logically follow from the available evidence, and they do not inappropriately generalize beyond the evidence. Furthermore, they will change their position when the evidence warrants doing so. They are often characterized as having "good judgment" because they typically arrive at a quality decision.

5 characteristics of a critical thinker

A journalist taught me about critical thinking and writing/editing. It’s important to vet and uncover more than one side to a story. See if you or your business associates have one or more of these characteristics (adapted from the Wikipedia entry). Do you:

  1. raise important questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  2. gather and assess relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  3. come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  4. think open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, your assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  5. communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems; without being unduly influenced by others’ thinking on the topic.

These abilities are critical in business strategy — and in life. I particularly like the concept of suspending judgment.

How do you know?

These four words make a great jump-start to critical thinking. If it isn’t clear, ask, “How do you know?”

Leave a Comment

chase away unwanted reactions


An interesting article, edited & shortened below.

C = Choice.
Our brains like choices. Autonomy is one of the things we look for as humans.
The magic number seems to be three choices. Influence psychology tells us that when you give people options, start with the luxury model first, then midline, then economy. More times than not, the midline will be chosen.

H = Hierarchy.
Our brain pays a lot of attention to pecking order or status.
People get into status battles when they feel like others are commenting on the quality of their work or their competence. On a one-on-one basis, you can tell when someone feels like their status has been questioned. It typically happens when you offer advice, make criticisms or give "feedback."

A = Assurance.
When things feel uncertain, the brain goes into survival mode, and we begin to think and behave in ways that make us feel safer.
When things are shaky, over-communicate the things you know are certain. Give people a sense of safety so they don’t danger surf too much and fall into auto-pilot, uncreative thinking.

S = Social.
We are a tribal species. It hurts to be left out. When we’re hurt, we don’t communicate as much or as well.
The social realm is dictated by the rules of the group.

E = Equitability.
When things feel equitable or fair, the reward part of the brain turns on. If you offer someone a proposal with something that feels unfair, they will scan the rest of the proposal more stringently for inequitable items…
To discover someone’s definition of fairness on certain issues, simply ask what feels fair to them.

Leave a Comment

goal centric coaching

4 steps of structure for coaching or meeting that focus on a goal rather than on problems.

Goal (what we want to do)
Reality (the circumstances we’re dealing with—or how we perceive them)
Options (how we might move from our Reality to our Goal),
Way Foreword (what action we want to take)

InsideOut Development : Do What You Already Know by Alan Fine

Leave a Comment

it is your duty to ask simple questions


“We get seduced by the complicated in Western society,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We’re in awe of it and we pull away from the duty to ask simple questions, which we do whenever we deal with matters that are complex.”

We are drawn to complexity. We fear simplicity.

In design, it is easy to slip in to adding choices, options or features.
In thought and words, we like to use long words or acronyms and jargon.
When writing we include needless words, and struggle to stick to the point.

Asking simple, direct and even ‘dumb’ questions can help you get to the heart of the matter.

omit needless words :

simplification failure :

Leave a Comment

games are exploratory learning experiences

“The secret to good game design is simple. Set up situations where there is a problem that must be solved and let the user solve it. Give them subtle clue, but don’t take away that ‘aha’ moment. “ – Dan Cook

Exploratory Learning;

“an approach to teaching and training that encourages the learner to explore and experiment to uncover relationships, with much less of a focus on didactic training (teaching students by lecturing them). Exploratory learning does not necessarily mean an unguided or unconstrained learning environment, but does mean that learners may discover unexpected lessons and reach conclusions following various paths.”

“Several loops of learning, the user’s mental model will crystallize and they will have an ‘aha’ moment where they know exactly what they need to do and how. This moment of understanding and mastery is at the heart of what we call Fun. We’ve triggered the primitive reward system at the base of all learning. It is the same feeling of delight that you feel when you ‘get’ a joke. It is the same feeling of satisfaction that arises from a job well done.

  • You are given a goal
  • You aren’t told how to reach it.
  • You can fail (and be told that you failed)
  • You can succeed.
  • Delight comes when you figure it out on your own.

Leave a Comment

goals follow dreams


“Let’s not get confused at the difference between a goal and a dream. A goal is something measurable, trackable, and is built on analytics. Goals have realistic timelines, are measured by weighing the data, the risks, and the current assets. They are essential to success, but they follow dreams. A dream is bigger–it has no boundaries, rules, or past history. It’s focused on transforming business as we know it, and approaching from a direction never pursued–or at least never attained. In dreams, we seek the outstanding change–not just within the products we create but in the results those products inspire.”

Leave a Comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.