Weeknotes 320

Photo of the week:

I wandered lonely as a cloud.

What I did this week:


It has been an interesting week learning lots about what it means to work in agile ways, what that means for other teams that work with us, how the different understandings make it hard to work as one team. Lots of figure out in the coming weeks.

To whom am I speaking?

The week’s Irregular Idea was that the online disinhibition effect, the idea that when we feel anonymous, or even just hidden behind a screen, we feel less restrained and more able to express ourselves in ways we might not feel comfortable doing in person, is becoming more and more a part of online communication.

A short history of blockchain in charities

Following the trend of interest in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, the charity sector’s interest peaked in 2018 and settled into being mostly about crypto donations, and with the future looking less decentralised than previously thought.

Read Recently

This week’s reading list was about agile, moral norms, neurodiversity, innovation, systems, accessibility, collective behaviour, money, process design, company wiki’s, Critical Theory, collaboration, and empowered teams.

What I read:

The Internet We Could Have Had

This brilliant piece by Christopher Kelty looks at some of the many things that the internet seemed to promise but didn’t deliver. I wonder if it’s more to do with human nature of always wanting and idealising more, and that those that get out there and build things are usually those with something to gain from it. You can’t fix things humans build until you fix humans.

Reading between the highlights

This article about how the Kindle turns reading from a “solitary activity into a collective experience” but one “without context, highlights are often always misinterpreted as endorsements”, is really interesting. It suggests a future for digital ready where ebooks are passed down from parents to kids and serve as ever-growing body of knowledge. The idea of multiplayer reading is also interesting, but Kindle dating… not so sure.

No Floor, No Ceiling

Another interesting article about what it might mean to live in the internet-era. It mentions the point that some look to the internet as a way to escape working for an organisation but end up working for the algorithm. (Not sure the analogy makes complete sense to me; there’s a limited downside and yet there’s no floor?)

Social capital

I read a few of Dan Ramsden’s posts, but this one on social capital was particularly interesting, partly from an ASD perspective but also because I think I’ve read about the concepts of bonding, bridging, etc., before.

And what I thought about:

Product thinking needs more tools for uncertainty

Most of product thinking tools are designed around creating certainty from uncertainty. The scientific method (which is one of my favourites) starts with questions about unknown things and tries to reach a conclusion to answer it with some certainty. But, in increasingly complex and uncertain situations, trying to get to certainty isn’t helpful. We need thinking tools for embracing uncertainty.

The difference between governance and bureaucracy

Following on from my thinking about ‘just enough enough’, I’ve been thinking about ‘lightweight governance’ or ‘just enough governance’ that doesn’t tip over into heavy bureaucratic process. Thanks to some smart people of Twitter, we can think of the differences as, “Governance is overseeing the strategic direction of a project or organisation and bureaucracy is filling out lots of forms!”, “Governance is a role/responsibility and bureaucracy is a process/system”, “Governance moves us forward, bureaucracy almost always drives us backwards.”, and “Governance is outcome-focused, bureaucracy is process-focused”

Managing and coaching

I’ve been thinking about the differences between managing and coaching, and managers taking a coaching approach, as is the trend. I think the difference is in the nature of the relationship between manager and managee, and coach and coachee. In coaching, the relationship is voluntary, the coachee seeks out a coach and engages in a coaching relationship because they want to. They have a choice. But the managee doesn’t have a choice about whether to have a manager or who that manager is. That relationship isn’t voluntary. So, the question is then, if/how a manager can use a coaching approach with a managee when coaching depends on the voluntary nature of the relationship which doesn’t exist between manager and managee?

Wasting away

Wasting what? Wasting time, effort, money? Andy Tabberer started an interesting discussion on waste in organisations which got me thinking. Is waste considered a bad thing because of how we think about work? If work and organisations that coordinate work are thought about in the ‘factory’ mindset where efficiency is of the utmost importance, then waster is a bad thing that should be minimised. But if we think about organisations more like biological organisms, then producing waste is a sign of a healthy functioning system. The organism consumes resources from it’s environment, e.g., a new management technique from a book, processes it to extract the valuable nutrients, in this case trying to apply the technique but finding it doesn’t work. The time and effort put into that process is waste, because it wasn’t ultimately of value to the organism, and that waste has to be disposed of, by learning from the experience maybe, but if the learning was that the organism shouldn’t do those kinds things because it was wasteful, then it stops consuming. The organism starves to death in an attempt to not produce any waste. So, maybe waste is a good thing.