Gall’s law

This needs wider recognition:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

From Gall’s Law on Wikipedia.

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Thanks to Geir & Jonas @ Telemark Fylkeskommune for bringing this law to my attention.

Organization – The simple way (a OnePageBook)

Usually after having read a 200+ pages book, I wish there was a one page summary I could have read instead.

As Thomas Jefferson once said:
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

Brendan and myself decided to start condensing our concepts into OnePageBooks. First out is “Organization – The simple way”. In just one A4 page you will get a destilled model and how-to for building organizations.

Available on Amazon

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Leadership

It’s so prevalent that it is taken for granted – the need for management, for leadership.

I believe the reason why people would need a boss… is because they had a boss. And having a boss dulls your ability to think for yourself, your initiative takes a hit and your creativity gets blunted. Management normally inspires indecision and dependence on management – simply because everyone wants to be valuable. A manager wants to be valuable as a manager. Hence he manages. And through that managing, he directs and motivates. And the people underneath him directs less and self-motivate less.

A few days ago I attended a meeting where the boss insisted that “everyone needs a boss“. I disagreed of course, leading to a moment of confusion. I rocked a fixed idea. Such “obvious” foundations are seldom challenged and often simply accepted without any questioning.

Your skills increase with practice, and your skills decrease with lack of practice. Having a boss that tells you what to do decreases your decision skills. Having a boss that motivates you decreases your self-motivation skills. And that is on a good day. It becomes even worse if you have a bad boss.

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But I would maintain that no boss is better than a good boss. Which is why my goal as a father is that when my children reach the age of 18, they would never again need a boss.

Play

Had a meeting today with an interesting person. We talked business, life and philosophy. He presented an angle to “Fuck it” that changed my view on letting go – a view that is more direct, active and productive. Play is more positive. While “Fuck it” has great merit, Play is easier to adopt.

You can tell a person to “let go” of the negative emotions he creates. He can perhaps do that. Or perhaps he will struggle to figure out how. You can guide him, coach him, train him to just “give a fuck” and “chillax”. But it may take a while with some serious guidance.

Telling him to play more in life is easier to grasp, easier to do. Play is doing fun stuff that is unserious and not demand results or consequences. Ask the person what “play” is to him. Then encourage him to do more of that in his life. Voilá.

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Xtreme

It really is extreme. Extreme people with extreme skills, doing stuff people wouldn’t think possible.” Adrian was half proud, half nervous as he walked through the doors of the most mythical company in town – aptly called Xtreme. Unpretentious, an almost anonymous location. But inside, a nerd’s heaven.

Xtreme

The interview was nothing like he had imagined. And very far from any interview he had experienced before. He was to pitch right in on a project for a week. And then his team mates were to decide if they wanted to let him on board. He had to impress them, ha had to be extreme. “Impress people like Claes, Florian, Maria and Michael. Damn, I have to be on top of my game here, cuz those guys are freakin legends in the open source world.” But so was Adrian. He had run several projects that has gotten good traction on Github, and that was precisely why Florian had asked him to come and show off his awesome. But Adrian was never the bragging, arrogant type. Shy and humble, submerged in an intense interest for developing the next coolest thing – he so wanted to work with these guys.

Getting on board meant to actually own an equal piece of the company and share the responsibilities, decisions, salary, perks and work with everybody else at Xtreme. And it meant getting to work with the top notch developers in the world, doing stuff that really matters. No wonder Adrian was tense.

But the week went surprisingly well. His team mates were including and helpful and he got plenty of opportunity to show his skill set. He worked on a technically challenging and interesting project that would prove extremely valuable for a customer building rescue helicopters.

He got to see the organization up close. Or rather, the lack thereof. Without any executives or hierarchy, the company was light, quick and ultra-dynamic. “But how do you make important decisions, like moving the company to new premises?” he had asked. “It’s like in this village called Endesh in North Tanzania“, Florian replied, “they get together and decide.” “All of them?” “Yeah all of them. All of us.

But don’t you need executives?” Adrian looked somewhat puzzled. “Why?” Florian inquired. “What would you need an executive for? Do you need to be told what to do? Or what not to do? Or do you need someone else to motivate you to do your best? Because if you need those things, we don’t need you.” Adrian got the drift and answered “Well, I sure haven’t needed any of that to get me this far. The bosses I’ve had have more often than not been in my way, deciding on stuff they really don’t know and without the hands-on knowledge required to make the right choices. All while they think they know best.” Florian smiled. “Then we’re on the same page here. There is no set process, formal way or exact procedure for what we do. We have the best guys in our field, we get shit done, learn, and get even more shit done. It’s a continual evolution.

Facts or inspiration

David wondered how he could best present the strategy to the board. Did they want pure facts or did they want inspiration?

While some of the board members were science types and driven by facts and figures, others were people-oriented and motivated by emotions.

If he were to be succinct and sum everything up as terse as possible, he knew of no better way than using a HyperList. If he were to relate the strategy with inspiration and emotion, the best way was to tell an old fashion story. He could sum everything up in half a page using a HyperList. Or he could write a short story a couple of pages long that took them on an inspirational journey. The story would describe how the company would be when the strategy was fulfilled using a fictional character to relay the points.

He decided to give them a choice by summing up the two forms in a simple HyperList:

OR: 
    Pure facts = HyperList
        The most succinct presentation of data
    Inspiration = Short story
        Words painting pictures and inviting emotions

And then he wrote this story.