#log 2021-05-14

Since last time.

From Napoleon to Nutella: The Birth of the Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

But, of course, a story that credits an invading force for a chocolate-confection-turned-regional-gem is not nearly as stirring as one that frames the chocolatiers as ingenious victors, who persevered in their trade in spite of the odds against them. And the motivation to reshape gianduia’s narrative only grew with time.

Two articles of mine published: one on modernization and tech debt for Tech Radar Pro UK and another for AG Connect Netherlands on how managers can help transform their organization (translated to Dutch).

The plunge of Grafton Street gushed with a growling steel and rubber torrent, vehicle flow swollen by a rain of lunchtime drinkers, weekend shopping trips and booming penis publicizers, threatening to overspill its banks. An anaconda laminate of molten tyre that snaked across the pavement just ahead of Mick bore testament that such a breach had happened only recently, most probably during the Friday night just gone. White-water driving by some Netto Fabulous crash-dummy who bled Burberry, shooting the traffic island rapids in his hotwired kayak, home to Jimmy’s End across the river in the west, head full of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and horse tranquilliser, pinprick pupils, squinting in the spindrift of oncoming headlights.

From JERUSALEM: 2018 Edition by Alan Moore – big book, hard to read casually.

Lee Atwater’s unfinished memoir – kind of a monster.

“Throw in the sponge”

What’s the big deal with 5G?

I’m never really sure what the deal with 5G is. I mean: better networking, sure. But is that such a huge deal? It feels like getting all excited about going from cast iron pipes to PVC.

Here’s some 5G background and commentary in this interview:

I don’t expect the highest 5G standards to be met until the middle of the decade, if ever, there’s a lot that has to happen before 5G delivers ultra-low latency of one millisecond. Average download downlink speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, or handoffs at speeds as high as you know, 500 kilometers per hour. I’m just not confident those standards will be met anytime soon.

And, a tangible benefit for us consumers:

Among those promises, I think its potential to replace broadband at home or in the office could have the greatest impact. I mean, it’s just ridiculous that so many of us are still paying for at least two connectivity services today, we have our mobile plans and fixed broadband. In most cases. If mobile operators can deliver reliable broadband like speeds that will finally break the hold that cable and other internet service providers have on so many of us. I think all of us could use the savings that would provide more now than ever. Not sure we’ll get there, but I remain hopeful.

Original source: 7 Layers Interview: Matt Kapko ‘5G is easily one of the most overhyped technologies’

People focus on the trivial because it’s comfortable

"The Law of Triviality states that the amount of time spent discussing an issue in an organization is inversely correlated to its actual importance in the scheme of things. Major, complex issues get the least discussion while simple, minor ones get the most discussion."

This concept as a tool is about learning how to place value in a task. Your tendency will be to solve problems that you understand, that seem easy to solve. Sometimes those are important, sometimes harder tasks are important. You have to know which outcome is better, what you want.

Of course, it goes the other way too: just because a task is difficult or confusing doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

Original source: Why We Focus on Trivial Things

Americans probably aren’t as crazy as they appear

Two-thirds of registered Texas voters agree with decisions by Gov. Greg Abbott and several local officials to suspend nonessential business operations. And more than three-quarters of voters support orders to stay home except for essential activities. The poll’s findings come as Abbott says he will soon announce plans to reopen a wide range of Texas businesses.

Original source: Texas voters overwhelmingly approve of business closures, stay-at-home orders despite blow to state’s economy, says UT/TT poll

Less voices, better meetings

The key is to recognize that the available input on an issue doesn’t all need considering. The most informed opinions are most relevant. This is one reason why big meetings with lots of people present, most of whom don’t need to be there, are such a waste of time in organizations. Everyone wants to participate, but not everyone has anything meaningful to contribute.

Original source: Why We Focus on Trivial Things

Consumer tech for the enterprise, enterprise tech for the consumer

'One major difference between Microsoft and Google, in Soltero’s view, is that Google is able to more naturally move across the worlds of consumer and enterprise technology. For Microsoft, he said, this was “just a very difficult thing for them to reconcile,” in his experience.

He said he has been helping the G Suite team “appreciate the unique opportunity that we have to not be conflicted by our role as both a consumer and an enterprise company, in a way that I just constantly saw Microsoft really struggle with.” Google has the ability to “not even bother with those distinctions” and focus on making products that people want to use, he said.

Original source: Google is getting a bigger grid: G Suite chief on Microsoft, Zoom and the new world of collaboration

Food lasts longer than you’d think, especially if you freeze it

Let’s start with the things you definitely don’t have to worry about. Vinegars, honey, vanilla or other extracts, sugar, salt, corn syrup and molasses will last virtually forever with little change in quality. Regular steel-cut or rolled oats will last for a year or so before they start to go rancid, but parcooked oats (or instant oats) can last nearly forever. (Same with grits versus instant grits.)

Original source: The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow

Who wanted all this?

Government leaders are the only ones who’re saying this virus stuff will end soon. Everyone else says it’s two years or so:

the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.”

The confusion is compounded by all the different governments globally. Here in the Netherlands, I’m not sure there’s a sense of how long it will last except…longer?

The US is a massive country, and it’s governance system (State and city run when it comes to day-to-day operations) is causing huge problems, especially when there’s no plan from the Federal government:

“These problems might be surmountable. The U.S. is still a scientific and biomedical powerhouse. To marshal that power, it needs a massive, coordinated, government-led initiative to find the cleverest ways of controlling COVID-19—a modern-day Apollo program. No such program is afoot. Former Trump- and Obama-era officials have published detailed plans. Elizabeth Warren is on her third iteration. But the White House either has no strategy or has chosen not to disclose it.

Without a unifying vision, governors and mayors have been forced to handle the pandemic themselves. Ludicrously, states are bidding against one another—and the federal government—for precious supplies. Six states still haven’t issued any kind of stay-at-home order, while those that moved late, such as Florida, may have seeded infections in the rest of the country. “A patchwork approach to fighting a pandemic is very dangerous,” said Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development. “It’s a recipe for a response that’s less than the sum of its parts.” While several states have created their own coordinated groups, Konyndyk’s worry, shared by others, is that there are limits to what even the most capable state leaders can do without federal coordination. “We almost need to devise a public-health government in exile which can take on the responsibility of national coordination,” said Osterholm, the University of Minnesota epidemiologist.”

It’s all baffling. As an American, I’m continuly confused about how we all let things get this weird. First, how we elected and put up with the Trump administration, then how we’ve had such a limp response to the core purpose of government: to keep people thriving, pursue happiness and and all that.

I rarely blame the government for problems and instead blame ourselves, "we the people." As they say, we get the government we deserve, rather, asked for.

I don’t know, man.

Getting finance to keep moving and get out of the way, lessening executive helpfulness

The role of finance in agile stuff, getting better at using software to create and drive business, is to first mover faster and get out of the way, and second, to figure out how to actually help innovation and growth beyond “investing.” I’m not sure we know how to do the second.

Finance is in a position like security. When things go wrong, they go really wrong. So, the most human way to operate is as cautiously as possible: lots of detailed plans, operating slow (takes many months – a year even! – to ask for, approve, and actually get the money), and requiring people asking for funding to be “accountable.”

Here’s some ideas:

The CFO taught leaders of all agile teams to sequence their activities by constructing a simple financial scenario: How much value would be lost if each initiative began six or 12 months from now rather than today? Initiatives that had the highest cost of delay—either because the benefits were so big or because seasonal opportunities or competitive advantages would be squandered—rose to the top of the backlog.

And, then, instead of just being the experts and authority on money related metrics, doing so on business health metrics:

Her most important work lay in her own domain. She began revamping the planning, budgeting, and reviewing process—first for Project Fusion and then for other parts of the company that were tackling innovation programs. She reset corporate objectives to reflect the new priorities. She created new financial reports for the strategic agile initiative. She also commissioned agile teams to develop planning and budgeting processes similar to those used by venture capital firms with start-ups. Previously done annually, the processes would now occur more frequently—at least quarterly—but would be less onerous. Rather than relying strictly on financial forecasts, teams would increase the transparency of key assumptions, create ways to test them, and identify potential impediments. For example, teams would not simply forecast sales; they would break them into the number of customers per year, frequency of purchases per year, number of items per purchase, and average revenue per item. The most critical and risky assumptions could thus be tested first, and deviations from expectations could be examined and refined. As data began to come in, frequent feedback loops would accelerate decisions to grow gains and limit losses, just as in the venture capital world.

I go over the growth board model in my recent book The Business Bottleneck.

I don’t know though: a lot of bottlenecks in large organizations are just due to scale and the inability of higher level executives to understand what’s going on below them. There’s just too much to understand and know across the organization: no one could know how to govern and manager 100’s, if not thousands of projects.

One school of agile thought wants to “push down” decision making. This implies that (1.) executives primary set strategy and operational constraints (how you can do business and how you can’t, e.g., we’re not going to sell in the Nordics, we’re going to start an hourly rental business, we should remove costs from our building insurance business, etc.), and, (2.) be less involved in day-to-day operations, mostly by reducing the time to not takes to do over-site and, er, “helping.” Number two is colloquially known as “meetings”:

We studied the calendars of three senior executives whose companies became agile organizations, quantified how they spent their time, and then interviewed them. We ran the findings past about a dozen other agile executives, and the results were consistent and eye-opening. By the end of the transition to agile (a three-year process for those firms), the leaders had quadrupled the time spent on strategy (from 10% to 40%) and reduced the time spent on operations management by more than half (from 60% to 25%). The time spent managing talent had risen slightly (from 30% to 35%).

Original source: The Agile C-Suite

Learning from failure isn’t always worth it

In another experiment we raised the stakes in a different way: We approached about 300 U.S. telemarketers and gave them a challenging test about customer service, a topic directly relevant to their jobs. But, again, our results were similar. The telemarketers who received success feedback on the questions they answered right demonstrated learning, while those who got failure feedback on the questions they answered wrong didn’t. Sure, performing poorly on a customer service test might have made those participants feel a little rotten, but the failure wasn’t so big that they felt compelled to attend to it. They preferred to protect their egos.

Original source: Maybe Failure Isn’t the Best Teacher