In an attempt to make my finds on Twitter more explicit, this may be the start of regular posts on some of the things I learned this past week (weekly seems better than monthly).
Numbers & Measurement
From Charles Green at The Trusted Advisor:
If you can measure it, you can manage it; if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it; if you can’t manage it, it’s because you can’t measure it; and if you managed it, it’s because you measured it.
Every one of those statements is wrong. But business eats it up. And it’s easy to see why.
The ubiquity of measurement inexorably leads people to mistake the measures themselves for the things they were intended to measure.
More on meaningless numbers used to measure things, from Dave Snowden.
We face the challenge of meeting increasing legitimate demands for social services with decreasing real time resources. That brings with it questions of rationing, control and measurement which, however well intentioned, conspire to make the problem worse rather than better. For me this all comes back to one fundamental error, namely we are treating all the processes of government as if they were tasks for engineers rather than a complex problem of co-evolution at multiple levels (individuals, the community, the environment etc.).
David Eaves discusses how being open, like embracing open source software, is becoming important for economic development:
Vancouver is not broken – but it could always be improved, and twitter confirms a suspicion I have: that programmers and creative workers in all industries are attracted to places that are open because it allows them to participate in improving where they live. Having a city that is attractive to great software programmers is a strategic imperative for Vancouver. Where there are great software programmers there will be big software companies and start ups.
Via @SoulSoup is the story of DimDim (free, open source, web conferencing platform) [dead link] making CNET’s Webware Top 100 for 2009 [dead link]. Open source is moving up the software stack, first with operating systems, then general applications and now richer applications. Software vendors have to be continuously moving into higher value applications to remain relevant. This is a natural industry evolution that few purchasers, especially in government, understand.
Learning & Working
In 1996, aged 45, I was on a train with Fraser Mustard. We were returning from a trip to Queens University in Kingston, where he had been giving a master class to a group of senior people in the Canadian Government service. I had been working for him as an adviser for about a year. Working with him was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. I asked him if he would consider taking me on full time.
“You are an adult now Rob. Time to go out on your own.” He paused and then added. “I am tired. You cannot rely on me for your life.”
The greatest advice I have ever had given by the greatest man I have ever encountered.
Via @changedotorg – “In fact, if you look at what’s really happening right now in the nonprofit sector, you’ll find several reasons NOT to go back to school and focus on what organizations are really looking for in potential candidates.” When a Degree isn’t enough [dead link]
There’s enough evidence now to show that Instructor-Led Training is not effective as an approach for the majority of employee development. ILT may be helpful for some change management and big-picture ‘concept’ development, but it is demonstrably the least effective and certainly the least efficient approach for most learning that’s required.