stop doing dumb shit

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Stop doing dumb shit and I’ll stop being negative.” @Fisman

“Even if you’re fully vaccinated, the CDC still recommends not using Reply All to thank or congratulate one person.@Aisha_Dickerson

I am the very model of a modern …

I’ve information anecdotal, chemical, and clinical
I know the COVID experts, and I quote-tweet fights on aerosols

List BioNTech to Zeneca, in order categorical
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters virological

I understand most models but I’m baffled by the cubical
About t-cell immunity I am teeming with a lot o’ news … lot o’ news…
with many cheerful facts about the antibodies I’ll produce!

I know the vaccine history from Jenner and the old cowpox
I answer diagnostics, I thank all the nurses and the docs

I quote in elegiacs all the CDC analysis
And hope we’ll usher in an annus slightly more mirabilis

I can tell adenoviruses from mRNA and spike proteins
I have a working map of every single drug store close to me
Then I can hit refresh until finally a slot I score … slot I score …

I’ll whistle all the way home ’cause I’m happy that my skin is sore!
I’m looking at the r-naught and I hope the trend is fabulous

I know the pseudoscience claims of beings antivaxxulous
In short, in matters anecdotal, chemical, and clinical
I am the very model of Moderna-made injectables


yes, all models are wrong

“Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.”George Box

So how do we know when a model — particularly one of our preferred mental models — is wrong? It is difficult to change our mind but that is what any good professional has to be able to do. Consider one of the prevailing battles in our understanding of the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization, which many governments follow in making policy, has admitted that airborne spread is possible, but stops short of saying it’s the dominant mode of spread.

Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and one of the co-authors of the Lancet paper, says this distinction matters in order for people to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe.

He said contrary to what he told Quirks & Quarks host, Bob McDonald in February 2020, he now believes the virus is primarily spread via tiny aerosol particles, and the Lancet article lays out the evidence that changed his mind. —CBC Q&Q 2021-04-23


detective work

For the past few months I have been engaged in a couple of programs that focus on organizational performance improvement. In the Performance-based Learning program we ask — What is the performance gap and what are the influencing factors? This is part of the Performance Detective role. In the Emerging Stronger Masterclass, one of the key questions is — What is your hypothesis? — and then you have to confirm it based on data, observations, and especially experiments.

But how does one ‘think like a detective‘? Let’s observe what makes a good detective. (more…)

distributed work

I have been working remotely and doing distributed work since 2003. It’s remote work because I live ‘far from the madding crowd’, in a town of 5,000 people, with lots of cows within town limits, many pheasants, and a few coyotes. The closest metropolitan areas are Boston (850 km) and Montreal (1,030 km) and both are closed to travel at this time. Remote work means far from everyone else.

Distributed work is people working from anywhere. There is no centre. This is what we have seen explode during this pandemic. Some people think we will go back to the ‘old normal’ of clustered work as soon as — or if — this pandemic is over. I don’t.

In Post-Pandemic Silicon Valley Isn’t A Place the startup founders at Initialized found a recent significant shift in the choices for startup location. In 2020 41.6% of their portfolio chose the San Francisco Bay Area, while only 6% opted for remote/distributed workplaces. One year later and 42.1% were opting for remote/distributed work. The shift has begun. (more…)

leadership has a price

I served for 23 years in the Canadian Army. As a young infantry officer, the concept of leadership by example was drilled into us. One event remains in my memory from almost 40 years ago.  A fellow junior officer had just joined the regiment. He had graduated from university then joined the Army and did one year of infantry officer training. At that time it was normal to send new officers to our Battle School, where recruits were trained. On graduation they would all come back to our unit. At the School, new officers had experienced, permanent-staff non-commissioned officers (NCO) for support, usually with 10 or more years of experience. (more…)

four hundred finds

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. This is #400.

“We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”Abraham Lincoln

@trishgreenhalgh“the 2-metre physical distancing rule is based on a flawed droplet model of transmission. Just like cigarette smoke, if you’re in an enclosed space for 30 minutes, aerosols spread across the whole room. Think 3Cs: closed spaces, crowded places, close contact.” (more…)

we need simulation!

The background to this story, explaining the difficulties I had in trying to establish a methodology to select simulation in the support of training programs is here — L&D Outside the Box. That story started in 1994 and ended in 2013. I do not know what has transpired since then, but I do hope that the training field has developed an informed process to select and use simulation to support learning. Somehow, I have doubts, and would love to be proven wrong.

In that article I concluded that L&D professionals have to master their own field as well the business they support. In addition, they have to understand that few outside L&D think that what they do is important. It’s a big challenge, and learning is becoming critical to all businesses. It is up to L&D to be part of this by developing science-based and practice-based methods. (more…)

leave standard methods to the machines

Any situation at work can first be looked at from the perspective of — is this a known problem or not? If it’s known, then the answer can be looked up or the correct person found to deal with it.

Known problems require access to the right information to solve them. This information can be mapped, and frameworks such as knowledge management (KM) help us to map it.

We can also create tools, especially performance support systems to do the work and not have to learn all the background knowledge in order to accomplish the task. This is how simple and complicated knowledge continuously gets automated.

Of course this still might be difficult, given that finding the right information or right people still consumes a lot of time at work. But this is merely a complicated problem. We have proven methods to improve collaboration, cooperation, knowledge sharing, and sensemaking.

If it’s a new problem or an exception, then workers have to deal with it in a unique way. This is why we hire people instead of machines — to deal with exceptions. Complex, new problems need tacit and implicit knowledge to solve them. Exception-handling is becoming more important in the networked workplace because computer systems can handle the routine stuff. People, often working together, have to deal with the exceptions. (more…)

good friday finds 2021

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“The day life got better was the day I stopped arguing with people who don’t read.”@MrErnestOwens

“COVID Haiku: Coffee in morning. Then a bunch of stuff happens. Red wine in evening.”@JohnCHavens

“Really, there are just two kinds of people in the world, the narcissists and the rest of us who care about each other. One of these days we will stop falling for their selfish tricks and send them into trauma recovery programs.”@NurtureGirl

“Why is morale low? Hmm, well, you promoted all the assholes without ever making them clean up their act. Maybe start there.”@MeetingBoy (more…)

you are a commodity and don’t know it

In platforms and the precariat I asked —If you are not one of the recognized best in your field, can you make a living online or are you just part of some platform’s long tail, valuable only to aggregators and their advertising revenues? As a content creator are you providing the fodder that lets Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube earn huge market valuations? Will there be a middle class in the emerging network creative economy?

Ross Dawson’s 2012 observation was that “in a connected world, unless your skills are world-class, you are a commodity”. Three things will differentiate professionals in such an economy — Expertise, Relationships, and Innovation. (more…)