Weeknotes 303

This week I did:


I’ve been in my current role for five months now so it seemed like a good time to ask my colleagues for some feedback. Some of the comments were about how I provide guidance, which for me means knowing when be explicit in what I’m saying, when to be implicit so that people figure things for themselves, and when to say nothing. The skill to develop, then, is the judgement around knowing which to do when. The other feedback I received was that I always smile on video calls, which I hadn’t noticed but was nice.

Expanding on the future of education

This week’s Irregular Ideas newsletter was a rant about the purpose of education and how when we think about the future of education (or anything really) we frame it as opposite to the past rather than an expansion. The general point here is about how we tend to think about replacing things rather than building on them and expanding them.

Ambivalent MBA

I started setting up the course structure for my ambivalent MBA in ‘Charity in the 21st century’. I’m really looking forward to having some structured learning again, and exploring doing so in a agile self-directed and self-paced way. The point of this way of studying is to not have a curriculum set at the start but to create it as I go. This means that if I find a topic really interesting I can go into it in more depth and if I don’t find it useful I can spend less time on it.

And read/listened to:

How to live the perfect life, using data

The Modern Wisdom podcast with Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a data scientist, economist and author, had some really interesting thoughts on how to be successful in a general/life sense. It basically comes down to three factors: Get the reps in – the more times you do something the better you’ll get at it, create a local monopoly – be the only one that does what you do, and, optimise for similarity – people connect to those they have things in common with.

Closing the gap

This report on the state of online learning is particularly positive (not surprising given it’s by an online learning company). One of the interesting things about the future of online learning is how much it’ll facilitate the future of work. If mainstream education continues to be wholly in-person (because you need to put the kids somewhere while the parents go to work) then working form anywhere/home when those kids get jobs (or at least a job that can be done from anywhere) seems like a hugely disruptive start to working life (with consequences for the organisation and the individual). But if education changes to be less about preparing people for a workplace where they need to turn up on time, sit quietly and do as they’re told, and more about the mindset and skills that modern remote work requires, then remote work has a far greater chance of being the norm. And effective online learning is essential for that shift.

Solving global issues

The World Economic Forum’s report ‘17 ways technology could change the world by 2027’ has some very interesting ideas. The position WEF takes is that “innovation is critical to the future well-being of society and to driving economic growth”, which is pretty hard to argue against by any measure (life expectancy, health, literacy, etc.), but it’s a very human-centric position. Even the mention of removing reliance on fossil fuels is because people need power, not because other species need to survive.

And I thought about:

Document Driven Development

Although probably not Document Driven Development as developers understand it. And not necessarily Word documents, but any kind of documentation. Basically, starting work by getting as much of the ideas, knowledge and questions out of people’s head as possible. ‘Visualise the work’ has shown the benefits for being able to reduce the cognitive load for teams, so maybe ‘visualise the thoughts’ is an extension of that which facilitates async working. And async meetings are a meeting of minds, in a shared virtual space, for a defined length of time, with a defined outcome.

Impact mapping and theory of change

I’ve been thinking about how to improve understanding what a product/service is trying the achieve and have been trying to compare impact mapping and theory of change. Impact mapping is more of a forward planning tool, allowing you to create causal connections between the features of the product, the impact or change expected from implementing them, who will be using them, and the business goals associated. Theory of change is more of a backwards-looking evaluation tool that counts early small achievements as indicators that a bigger longer-term outcome will be achieved. I’m going to do some modelling exercises using both tools with a single product and see how the experience and results differ.

Decision short-cuts

Principles, design systems, component libraries, process maps, etc., etc., all seem to be solving the same fundamental problem; how to short-cut coordinated decision making.