Weeknotes 293

This week I did

Staff sum it

People, organised, are greater than the sum of their parts. I went to the second RNID staff summit this week and had a great time meeting lots of people and learning even more. I hardly slept the first night because my head was full of so many thoughts. I’ve been asking my usual ‘why’ questions about get-together’s for organisations that work remotely (distributed) by default, and I don’t have a good answer. It seems obvious that there is value in the social interactions, and that they are important for establishing, maintaining and changing culture, after all humans are social creatures

Digital Transformation

Last week’s Irregular Ideas newsletter was about how digital transformation won’t solve the productivity paradox. It had a 68.18% open rate. I’ve no idea what next week’s will be about.

And read:

Status and affiliation

The Akimbo podcast talks about the two mechanisms that control group behaviour: status, that we want to now where we fit, and affiliation, that we want to belong. Existing status and affiliation is hard to change, but it can be bypassed to create new groups with different ways of recognising status and affiliation.

The exponential age

James Plunkett proposes a tree diagram as a way of visualising the exponential age. Understanding this type of growth is essential for understanding the internet, the effects of digital products. As James says, it isn’t just that “technology is getting faster, smaller, or cheaper”, it’s that all things are happening at the same time. And this is why the future becomes increasing unpredictable.

Perhaps where the exponential tree falls down is that the first line is much bigger than the next two, which are bigger than the next four, and so suggests that as something grows it increases in number but lessens in impact. But it’s a vast improvement on a graph with curve.

Why do we prefer doing something to doing nothing?

This is a really good explainer on the action bias, something we all tend towards as individuals and as organisations. It makes some good points about how we associate busyness with productivity and not doing things as a sign of laziness, but don’t really have a mental shortcut for facing uncertain situations where waiting is a better option.

First principles

Starting with what we know is true and building our understanding on that is referred to as first principles thinking. I’ve been using it a bit to try to frame my understanding of how we might build products as so much of it is based on hypotheses. In fact, a product is exactly that; a hypothesis about how to solve a problem which is always in a state of being proved, but never actually reaching it.

And thought about

Thoughts from the week

Talking to so many people at the RNID staff summit gave me so much to think about, including:

  • How making lived experience part of a charity’s culture helps to tackle charity savior complex as it can no longer be about ‘those people over there’.
  • Small charities tend to weather crisis and change better than larger ones.
  • Charities acting as ‘critical friend’ to government, NHS, statutory services, etc., rather than antagonist. This also helps to define the difference between social movements and charities as social movements often have a more antagonistic stance.
  • Research, discoveries and new inventions are constrained by their commerciality, regardless of whether they are good things to exist or not.
  • The place of science in story-telling, given the stances that have emerged over the past two years of the belief in ‘following the science’ and the dismissing of experts, is a difficult one.
  • There’s a thin line between legitimacy and cultural appropriation.
  • The social model of disability and the medical model aren’t in conflict, together they provide a more holistic understanding of a complex issue.
  • People need a lot of context and guidance to be able to ideate well. Facilitation is a skill, and so is ideation.
  • We might think about journeys as involving thoughts, feelings and actions, but we tend to assume the only outcome is an action. Maybe making someone feel something or change their mind about something are equally good ends of the journey.
  • Where charities draw the boundary lines between themselves and everything on the outside speaks volumes about how their strategy will actually play out. Achieving a strategy depends on interactions. Nothing exists in isolation.
  • Emotion and evidence. People are moved to act, but they need confidence that you know what you’re talking about.