Weeknotes 294

This week I did

Thoughts into action

I wrote a proposal that brought together some of my thinking about matrix teams and agile principles to create a learning culture. It’ll form the basis of the work we’ll do over the next few years to help people work in more digital ways. I really enjoyed working on it. We started with a document that described some of the problems people were facing, had an asynchronous ideation session to dig into our interpretations of the problems and figure out how we’d like to approach reaching solutions, wrote it up together and shared it with lots of people for feedback, all in less then two days. That’s the kind of pace I like. The approach we’re suggesting also takes account of some of the thinking I’ve been doing for a while on pacing layers and not expecting everyone to change at the same rate, so it’ll be good to put it into action.

Why would we want a more equal society?

This week’s Irregular Ideas newsletter asks why would we want a more equal society, how we measure equality in society, and what might be a better way to achieve equality?

Old rocks

I walked on hills formed 4,600 million years ago when two tectonic plates on the edge of the super-continent Gondwana, near where Antarctica is today, pushed magma to the surface. That ancient landmass then shifted north to where it is today, just so I could walk on it.

And I read

Scientific thinking

The application of scientific thinking in systems is about working towards solving a challenge.

Changing things

I’m half way through ‘Digital Transformation at scale: why the strategy is delivery’. It talks about what it takes to create digital institutions from hiring to how teams should be co-located. It’s very government focused (obviously) and feels like it shifts between ‘this is what we learned’ and ‘this is how you should do it’, with a nod to some of the prerequisites and challenges, but I’m trying to figure out what is applicable to charities in a pandemic-affected world with very different needs and incentives.

The system is wrong

I read about and played with Meta’s AI Systems Cards Tool. It’s interesting from a transparency point of view as it tries to explain how their systems take Instagram posts and ranks them “based on how likely that person is to be interested in them”, but it doesn’t say why they would want such a system. I guess transparency only goes as deep as the user interface, not as deep as the business model of engagement equals advertising dollars.

And thought about:

Magix Teams

I’ve been thinking and writing about how Matrix teams using Agile principles can create an advantage for organisations by focusing on learning and skill distribution, and how this is underpinned by the resource based view of the firm. The traditional idea of matrix management looks from the perspective of authority and it’s not really fit for modern digital teams, so I want to look at it in more detail from a learning and skills perspective for modern knowledge workers.

The individual and the dividual

The ‘individual’ is the persona as a complete and distinct unit. It’s generally how Western culture has regarded the human being since the Renaissance, and is the basis of all humanist philosophies and everything that is built upon them, such as user-centred design. The pandemic showed, in a very blunt way, how the persona as individual (who might make choices that benefit themselves at the cost of others) comes into conflict with the persona as part of the collective (who might make choices that benefit the group at cost to themselves).

To be able to talk about this type of persona it needs a name. I had been calling them ‘interdependents’ but when reading Deleuze I came across the term ‘dividual’ as opposite to ‘individual’. Whereas the individual is indivisible, the dividual is divided and shared among many systems in many ways, including as data. So, to be a person in a technologically advanced society one wouldn’t be thought of as an ‘individual’ existing primarily as a distinct physical body, but as a ‘dividual’ made up of multiple data points about socioeconomic status, location, age, gender, etc., etc.

If all of this thinking connects together in the right way then the dividual might be the persona for system-shifting product management (and design) that counters the individual in user centred design.

Choice architecture and CVs

I had a random thought about applying the principles of choice architecture to a CV to make it easier for hiring managers to select a candidate for interview, which I guess is just part of my general thoughts about how bad most CVs are.