“As you go through life, you will discover that more and more of the subjects you studied in college are useless, with the exception of abnormal psychology” – Mark Bricklin (journalist)
Recently I was dipping into ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman; it’s an interesting but full read, coming in at over 500 pages.
Skimming through, I came across the idea of ‘(project) premortems’. I’m very familiar with project postmortems (and their variations), which take place after a project has finished. The hope being that insights and learning may arise that will be helpful in the future. Premortems, on the other hand, take place at the very beginning!
Here’s a summary of the idea by Gary Klein:
A premortem is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem. A postmortem in a medical setting allows health professionals and the family to learn what caused a patient’s death. Everyone benefits except, of course, the patient. A premortem in a business setting comes at the beginning of a project rather than the end, so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied. Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so asks what did go wrong. The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure.
I was especially interested in the idea as it links to, although is different from, the idea of Discovery Driven Planning discussed earlier.
Picture credit: here.
About six months ago I blogged on the difficulties that emerging musicians have in making money (as this was relevant to some music events I was co-organising).
Recently I came across this infographic (from 2010) which puts matters in a very striking, if depressing manner
As you can imagine:
As ever, this was incredibly difficult to research. Industry figures are hard to get hold of. Some are even secret. Last.Fm’s royalty and payment system is beyond comprehension.
There are some very surprising numbers there…
Picture credit: here.
I noticed that there are some very interesting (free) courses provided by (US-based online university) Coursera:
We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
From BBC News:
Online universities have become increasingly high-profile – with the California-based Coursera one of the emerging major players.
Coursera, backed by venture capital, offers a platform for universities to deliver courses on the internet, currently without any charge to the student.
In its first term it is offering more than 200 courses.
I’m thinking of signing up for the ‘Model Thinking‘ course given by Scott Page:
I start with models of tipping points. I move on to cover models explain the wisdom of crowds, models that show why some countries are rich and some are poor, and models that help unpack the strategic decisions of firm and politicians. The models covered in this class provide a foundation for future social science classes, whether they be in economics, political science, business, or sociology….
For each model, I present a short, easily digestible overview lecture. Then, I’ll dig deeper. I’ll go into the technical details of the model. Those technical lectures won’t require calculus but be prepared for some algebra. For all the lectures, I’ll offer some questions and we’ll have quizzes and even a final exam. If you decide to do the deep dive, and take all the quizzes and the exam, you’ll receive a certificate of completion. If you just decide to follow along for the introductory lectures to gain some exposure that’s fine too. It’s all free. And it’s all here to help make you a better thinker!
I’ve done alot of modelling in my time, mainly in the physical sciences. It would be interesting to learn how modern modelling methods are used in wider (and much more complex) situations – anything involving people!
“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Flaubert (writer)
This quote certainly resonates with me!
I started this blog four years ago, partly as a by-product of leaving a large organisation and going independent. It was an attempt at trying to get various ideas and opinions accumulated over the past 25 years a lot clearer and put in a modern context. It was very hard to do this in the hustle and bussle of ordinary company life where there is usually little time to independently review and reflect.
Some colleagues have called my blog eclectic – it (deliberately) is – I guess it may be a bit confusing at times, zig-zagging around, but that’s how discovery goes!
Recently, as part of a general tidy-up, I’ve been re-organising my email accounts (as each provider uses a slightly different approach). Not quite so dull as it sounds as it got me thinking about how I can use email better.
Looking at sample email threads, it’s clear that a summary email would often be very helpful – you could then discard all the previous ramblings and sidetracks. At the time it’s not important as you can keep it all in your head (so the motivation for doing it is low) but 6 months later – nightmare! So I’ll start doing this as an experiment and see how effective it is (you can just send the email to yourself if you don’t want to share it).
The other issue that crops up is that emails can all to easily start replacing the voice. Once again, looking at samples, I realised that sending emails wasn’t always very effective – a quick call would have been better. Apart from basic communication, in conversations you can pick up related facts than no-one would be bothered to write in an email and you can also gauge feelings through the tone of voice. Hopefully, in many cases, it will also be fun!
So, I’m going to phone more from now on and keep a short note of the outcomes. This post by Mitch Ditkoff summed it up well (he discusses a number of ways of handling email better):
Use the Phone More: If you need a quick answer, call. If you have something long to explain, call. If an emotional issue is on the table, call. If you need to establish rapport with someone, call.
Regarding email in general, it’s always wise to remember that
The goal, by the way, is communication, not transmission.