Taylor Pearson on Procrastination

Taylor Pearson really has become a fine essayist. This one on procrastination was packed with wisdom:

“Whenever you feel that some situation or some person is ruining your life, it is actually you who are ruining your life… feeling like a victim is a perfectly disastrous way to go through life. If you just take the attitude that however bad it is in any way, it’s always your fault and you just fix it as best you canâ – the so-called “iron prescription” – I think that really works.” Charlie Munger

In his letter to shareholders back in 2016, Jeff Bezos gave the best advice I’ve ever heard on how to stop procrastinating:

“Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

What Bezos is saying is that you should think like a C student. When you’re about 70% sure, you take a guess and see what happens.

Colin Powell has a similar rule for how to stop procrastinating. You should make a decision when you have between 40% and 70% of the possible information. He believes that with less than that, you are bound to make a wrong decision.

However, if you keep looking for information beyond 70%, then by the time you make the decision, it will be so late that you will have missed the opportunity.

…Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired…Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.

…Courage is the Cure for Procrastination

In his account of an expedition into the Himalayas in the 1930’s, explorer William Hutchison Murray put it this way:

“… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money — booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”

William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

Japan’s koseki system

“The koseki is Japan’s family registration system. All legally significant transitions in a person’s life — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, adoptions, even changes of gender — are supposed to be registered in a koseki; in fact, registration is what gives them legal effect. An extract of a person’s koseki serves as the Official Document that confirms to the Rest of the World basic details about their identity and status.

Need to prove when you were born? Koseki extract. Need to show you have parental authority to apply for a child’s passport? Koseki extract. Want to commit bigamy? Good luck; the authorities will refuse to register a second marriage if your registry shows you are still encumbered with a first.

Compared to “event-based” Official Documents (birth certificates, divorce decrees and so forth) that prevail in places like America, the koseki is more accurate. An American can use a marriage certificate to show he got married on a particular date in the past but would struggle to prove he is still married today. A koseki extract, on the other hand, can do just that.”

Source: Japan’s koseki system: dull, uncaring but terribly efficient | The Japan Times

Power really does corrupt

I learned last week that becoming powerful has measurable neurological effects on your ability to empathize.

Listen to this fascinating episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain on “The Perils of Power”.

If you have a Harvard Business Review subscription there is a long article in the October 2016 edition called “Don’t let power corrupt you”.

Approximately correct strategy

Jason Bates (@JasonBates) tipped me off about the concept of “Approximately correct strategy”, from an interview with by Dick Harrington (former CEO of Thomson Reuters) by HBR columnist Anthony Tjan:

Recently, I had dinner with Dick Harrington, former CEO of Thomson Reuters

We talked about his three most significant lessons learned over his very successful 25+ year career as a Fortune 250 executive.

Dick Harrington (DH): First, you have to have an “approximately correct” strategy — you have to know where you are going, but directionally correct is the key. Two, you have to be highly focused and intensely execute that strategy by motivating and aligning the troops you have. And three, it always comes back to the customers and the fact that you have to manically know your customers and drive everything from that.

TT: Nicely done. So let’s start with the first point. People often worry about architecting a perfect business plan or strategy and then get lost in the minutia. How do you know when you are “approximately correct,” as you say?

DH: You want to be approximately correct instead of precisely incorrect. There is a point at which additional information or research will not change the basics of your strategy. When you get your strategy there, you have to “Nike it” – you just do it. If you continue to refine and refine, you’ll never get into action, and the incremental value of research just won’t be worth the time and money. Schedule time frames and be religious about them to launch, get feedback, and see if the strategy is acceptable to the customer or if you need to adjust.  

From: http://blogs.hbr.org/tjan/2009/08/lessons-learned-from-30-years.html

Glitches on the rise

I heard a very interesting interview with Jeff Papows, author of Glitch: The Hidden Impact of Faulty Software, on Technometria with Phil Windley.

Jeff makes the point that system failures are increasing dramatically, citing examples ranging like dramatically increased calls being dropped on cellular networks. I have noticed this too, with things like the skyrocketing rates of electrical blackouts in the US.

He blames multiple factors, including sheer scale of contemporary systems, incompetent programmers, poorly executed mergers and over worked IT departments.

It is well worth a listen.

Cloud Computing on Global Dashboard

I was chuffed to see one of my favourite blogs suddenly posted about “my” area , Cloud Computing.  Global Dashboard has this to say:

VoxEU explores the emergence of “cloud computing” and its potential impact on our lifestyles, business innovation, and economic growth. Charles Leadbeater assesses the associated rise of “cloud culture” and the importance of guarding this new space from the overbearing influence of government and big business. Elsewhere, over at Brookings Mark Muro wonders if the rise of Amazon’s Kindle could be a “symbol of American decline”.

David Straker – the man behind syque.com

I wanted to share with you what I consider to be one of the best sites on the internet – syque.com – and its creator and maintainer David Straker.

Syque.com is an umbrella site that contains several truly brilliant sub-sites. Here is a sample:

ChangingMinds

ChangingMinds.org is already a huge site, with over 2000 pages on all subjects around how we change one another’s minds. Including:

CreatingMinds

CreatingMinds.org is a new site about creativity and innovation, with around 400 full-content pages. Including:

  • Tools: A huge toolbox of creative tools.
  • Quotes: Thousands of quotes on creative topics.
  • Principles: Principles of creativity.
  • Articles: More articles on creativity and creative organizations.

Quality Tools

Quality Tools contains about 600 pages, mostly on the tools and techniques of quality and improvement, including the full text of a major book and ten-plus years of journal articles.

The Improvement Encyclopedia

This is a long list of around 400 items, each with a page containing descriptions of tools and terms about improvement and quality, ranging from original Japanese terminology to Six Sigma frameworks.

Along with businessballs, quality tools

If you want to keep up with what David is thinking and writing about, the check out his Changing Minds blog.

Data Center emissions will match those of air travel by 2020

Steve O’Donnell discusses McKinsey’s recent prediction that datacenter carbon footprint will quadruple by 2020, exceeding air travel’s.

CIO and CTOs are in denial about this, but it is true, and one of the biggest challenges facing the industry.

Data Center emissions will quadruple by 2020 matching the volume of air travel. | The Hot Aisle