Basecamp in Getting Real:
Don’t hire people. Look for another way. Is the work that’s burdening you really necessary? What if you just don’t do it? Can you solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead?
Whenever Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, used to fire someone, he didn’t immediately hire a replacement. He wanted to see how long he could get along without that person and that position.
I genuinely believe that with the right processes and the right people most companies need only half their headcount.
The American Management Association published an excerpt from William A. Cohen’s book A Class with Drucker:
“I never ask these questions or approach these assignments based on my knowledge and experience in these industries,” answered Drucker. “It is exactly the opposite. I do not use my knowledge and experience at all. I bring my ignorance to the situation. Ignorance is the most important component for helping others to solve any problem in any industry.”
Hands shot up around the room, but Drucker waved them off. “Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it,” he continued, “and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance; not what you think you know from past experience, because not infrequently, what you think you know is wrong.”
Cohen continues with a story about Americans building British cargo ships during World War II without having any knowledge about building ships.
Ramsay, who works out of a spare bedroom in the wilds of southwest England, has never read a book about submarines. “You would just end up totally tainted in the way you think,” he said. “I just work out what it’s got to do, and then come up with a solution to it.”
Elon Musk, quoted in one of Tim Urban’s amazing articles:
I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.
It’s my birthday. I’m 68. I feel like pulling up a rocking chair and dispensing advice to the young ‘uns. Here are 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice which I offer as my birthday present to all of you.
Great list. Some of the bits I like particularly:
- Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.
- If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.
- Before you are old, attend as many funerals as you can bear, and listen. Nobody talks about the departed’s achievements. The only thing people will remember is what kind of person you were while you were achieving.
–– James Baldwin
In case you’re ever hit by another motorbike and break your tibial plateau, that’s what they’re gonna do. Just saying…
Former Apple engineer David Shayer explains on TidBITS why he trusts Apple’s new exposure notification. He touches the internal processes that prevent excessive user tracking:
Once I had recorded how many times the Weather and Stocks apps were launched, I set up Apple’s internal framework for reporting data back to the company. My first revelation was that the framework strongly encouraged you to transmit back numbers, not strings (words). By not reporting strings, your code can’t inadvertently record the user’s name or email address. You’re specifically warned not to record file paths, which can include the user’s name (such as
/Users/David/Documents/MySpreadsheet.numbers). You also aren’t allowed to play tricks like encoding letters as numbers to send back strings (like A=65, B=66, etc.)
Next, I learned I couldn’t check my code into Apple’s source control system until the privacy review committee had inspected and approved it. This wasn’t as daunting as it sounds. A few senior engineers wanted a written justification for the data I was recording and for the business purpose. They also reviewed my code to make sure I wasn’t accidentally recording more than intended.
Read the whole thing. It’s fascinating.
Chuck Frey on The Sweet Setup:
Like many things in business, creativity responds well to a process — one that guides you along the path of birthing, nurturing and implementing game-changing ideas. This simple system includes 5 steps:
Investigate → Generate → Incubate → Evaluate → Activate
It never ceases to amaze me how all these techniques can be expressed as ways through the Munich Procedural Model of product development.
Michael Crichton in his talk Why Speculate? given at the International Leadership Forum:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
Damien Newman created a squiggle to symbolizes the design process from research on the left via concept and prototyping in the middle to the final design on the right.
–– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg?
Paul Graham in a 2008 essay:
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.
What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to.
When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers. As much as they respect brains in Silicon Valley, the message the Valley sends is: you should be more powerful.
Read the whole essay. It’s a very thought provoking. What does Munich tell you, what Shanghai, what Saigon?
I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness.
Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.
John Gruber comments:
One of the confounding aspects of software today is that our computers are literally hundreds — maybe even a thousand — times faster than the ones we used 20 years ago, but some simple tasks take longer now than they did then.
Too few product managers treat speed as a feature. There should be tests that make sure software stays fast (or becomes faster) when new features are addede.
Hugo, which is powering this site, is a positive example, advertising itself as “the world’s fastest framework for building websites”.
Lead developer Bjørn Erik Pedersen said in an interview with the New Dynamic:
I try to play the zero-sum game when adding new features: The processing time added by the new feature will have to be compensated by improvements in others […].
Performance bottlenecks show up in the most surprising places, so you have to benchmark. Performance gains and losses come from smaller accumulated changes over time. And speed matters. Try Hugo’s server with livereload and you will see.
Former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow, now managing director at Teneo Risk, explains how the Service protects the President and other VIPs.
Interesting to hear what they’re looking at regarding venues. I never thought about threats coming from air conditioning or light access.
Former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, Jonna Mendez, explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.
In the second video she breaks down 30 spy scenes from shows like Alias and Bourne Identity.