I don’t like to be heavily managed. And therefore, I try not to heavily manage others.
However, I realized that I had a bit of blind spot in trusting folks to follow through on their commitments. I would send an email requesting an update or a response to a question. But never receive a response. And, I wouldn’t realize that for some time. And, I didn’t have a good process to track these.
So, here’s what I found works for me.
Create a folder called Follow-up.
Create an Outlook rule that moves any message from me to the Follow-up folder.
BCC myself on emails that I want to make sure I get a response on.
Check the Follow-up folder as part of my weekly planning routine.
“Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone else make you feel behind.” – Range (pp. 290)
This book was talking my book, and since I agreed with most of what was being said, I liked it. There were some interesting sections on teaching and learning, sports and athletics, and career trajectory.
The sports one hits pretty close to home right now since our daughter is nine. It seems like kids are being required to pick a sport very early these days. I was glad to see some research suggesting that’s really not a good idea to specialize early. By the way, I sat next to a three time Olympian on the chairlift the other day, and she told me the same thing.
The book also had a lot of overlap with a couple of my other recent reads – Superforecasting and Principles. It even referenced Young Men and Fire (pp. 245) – a book by Norman Maclean (of A River Runs Through It fame) which has stuck with me since I read it a few years ago.
Three take-aways from the book:
Learning Should Be Hard
“Desirable difficulties like making connections and interleaving make knowledge flexible, useful for problems that never appeared in training.” (pp. 96)
“All forces align to incentivize a head start and early, narrow specialization, even if that is a poor long-term strategy.” (pp. 119)
If learning is easy, then you are probably doing it wrong. Or learning in a way that will help you utilize that knowledge in the future. Learning should be somewhat difficult. Early wins might be a bad sign.
It’s Not People vs. Computers, It is People + Computers
“But the centaur lesson remains: the more a task shifts to an open world of big picture strategy, the more humans have to add.” (pp. 29)
“Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.”
As the world becomes more digital, you should think about where people spend their time and where computers spend their time. Each is a tool. And like every tool, it has its strengths and weaknesses. This felt extremely applicable to both individual careers choices as well as managing people, processes, and companies.
Identify & Solve Problems
“Like Kranz, Von Braun went looking for problems, hunches, and bad news. He even rewarded those who exposed problems.” (pp. 259)
“…successful problem solvers are more able to determine the deep structure of a problem before they proceed to match a strategy to it.” (pp. 115)
This one had a lot of overlap to Principles. Solving problems is one of my best strengths or at least that is what I tell people in interviews. And it seems like a good area to focus on going forward, as it is a place where people add a lot of value vs. automation. In order to creatively solve problems, you need broad perspective.
“One of the most practical life skills that no one talks about is turning discipline into consistency. Discipline will only take you so far. It’s hard to be consistently disciplined.” – Farnam Street
The impact of recent world events can be seen in my article count for February. My hope is that something good eventually comes out of the situation in Ukraine – regardless of the near term results of the conflict.
A united world is better than a divided world.
Watching Putin’s 20+ year reign is the definition of slippery slope. Hopefully that translates into other arenas.
Watching an embattled Ukraine fight for their freedom is heart wrenching. Hopefully people can connect the dots. Like connect them to recent events in this country, when an armed group of insurgents stormed our Capitol building while full of our government leaders.
Colbert is right.
But I digress. I am also reading books. I am just not finishing reading books. Enjoying a biography on John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – but it is long. It does seem that history rhymes though.
Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:
The Professionalization of Startups – “Whatever you’re going to spend on sales, just put it into the product to make the product better. Anytime a customer needs to talk to a sales person, that’s a bug you have to go fix.”
Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published. Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.