Innovation is Saying “No” to 1000 Things

People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying “no” to a thousand things.

Steve Jobs as attributed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. 11h 26m 15s

By the way, as you can see I’m making progress on Taleb’s book and loving it.  Some of it is a bit dense for listening to at 3x so I have to slow it down and re-listen. Very well-reasoned and thought-provoking ideas.

Ironically this quote isn’t one of his own ideas but support for his ideas. I might have to listen to it a second time in order to pull out small quotes that really represent the whole. Kinda feels like swimming in deep waters right now.

I will say that Taleb talks a bit about ADHD and formal education. As a parent with at least one young child with ADHD these strike close to home. (ADHD runs in my family like the Force does in the Skywalkers.)

The tension between what fits the mold and what fits the child — the possible systematic harm from having a mold. Good questions.

Roberto’s 5 Decision Making Myths

A discussion I was having with a frustrated coworker reminded me of these decision making myths from Professor Roberto.

We maintain a belief in a number of myths about how decisions are made in groups and organizations…

“Myth #1: The chief executive decides. Reality: Strategic decision making entails simultaneous activity by people at multiple levels of the organization….

“Myth #2: Decisions are made in the room. Reality: Much of the real work occurs ‘off-line,’ in one-on-one conversations or small subgroups, not around a conference table….

“Myth #3: Decisions are largely intellectual exercises. Reality: High-stakes decisions are complex social, emotional, and political processes….

“Myth #4: Managers analyze and then decide. Reality: Strategic decisions unfold in nonlinear fashion….

“Myth #5: Managers decide and then act. Reality: Strategic decisions often evolve over time and proceed through an iterative process of choice and action….”

Professor Michael A. Roberto, The Art of Critical Decision Making, Course Guidebook pp. 5

Roberto on Fundamental Attribution Error

we don’t attribute correctly when we think about others versus ourselves.  We have a bias in the way we attribute the causes of success and failure — particularly failure

“When we observe … highly flawed decision making we often ask ourselves, ‘How could they have been so stupid?’ We often attribute others’ decision making failures to a lack of intelligence, relevant expertise, or even to personality flaws in the individuals involved.  We might even question their motives.

“Of course, we think of our own decision making failures in a very different way. We tend to blame an unforeseeable change in external factors. We don’t attribute it to the factors within ourselves such as intelligence, personality, or expertise.

“Psychologists describe this dichotomy as the Fundamental Attribution Error. In short, we don’t attribute correctly when we think about others versus ourselves.  We have a bias in the way we attribute the causes of success and failure — particularly failure.”

Professor Michael A. Roberto, The Art of Critical Decision Making, Lecture 1: Making High Stakes Decisions. 6m 45s

I’m Sorry I Was Rude Today

You can have intellectual curiosity. You can relish inquiry. But I still think people don’t like being wrong. And as much as I dislike being wrong, I hate being in the wrong.

I snapped at a direct report today. It was in a tense voice, at a normal volume. It was one sentence long. Continue reading I’m Sorry I Was Rude Today

Successful Change Follows SEE FEEL CHANGE

In almost all successful change efforts the sequence of change is not “Analyze, Think, Change,” but rather, “See, Feel, Change.”

“You’re presented with evidence that makes you feel something. It might be a disturbing look at the problem, or a hopeful glimpse of the solution, or a sobering reflection of your current habits– but regardless, it’s something that hits you at the emotional level.”

Switch, Chip and Dan Heath, Chapter 5, 9m 23s.

Pretend you’re not afraid

“As he started out into the maze, Haw looked back to where he had come from and felt its comfort. He could feel himself being drawn back into familiar territory, even though he hadn’t found cheese there in some time. Haw became more anxious and wondered if he really wanted to go out into the maze.

“He wrote a saying on the wall ahead of him and stared at it for some time:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Spencer Johnson, M. D. Who moved my cheese? Ch. 1, 33m 21s

Stooping for Pennies Loses the Crown

I’m on a scrum team. In sprint retrospective many members of the team share a concern that the team isn’t moving as fast as it could. Things seem to have slowed down. We brain storm as a team.  We look closer at the coming sprint’s plan. The Product Owner considers the team’s concerns and throws some stories overboard. One of them looks like an Easy Story. The product owner is getting business pressure to ship it. To give the team time to address concerns they raised in retro he throws it overboard.

“But wait,” one optimistic developer says. “That’s an easy story. We can still do that.”

“I’m not going to tell you guys everything to work on. Use your judgment. If it only takes a quick conversation then I’d love to have it. But I’m not committing you to it.”

All my dreams have come true. A Product Owner that gives clear direction, latitude, and cares about craftsmanship.

The next day. Stand-up. Will the Product Owner’s generosity be rewarded?

Continue reading Stooping for Pennies Loses the Crown