Where I keep the mental goodies from things I read, watch, and attend.
Formula 1 / F1 as a business
- When we asked fans, they said “it’s about speed.” But it wasn’t really about speed. It was about racing.
- The 2022 design and engineering process for the cars zoned in on this strategic and entertainment goal. 2021 cars were optimized for speed – making the cars go faster in clean air. 2022 cars are optimized for racing – reducing the wake of the car in front and the sensitivity of the car behind to dirty air.
- The product design followed the business / marketing strategy.
- Highest tier: automatic execution. Customers have high trust and allow you to fulfill and anticipate needs before they come up.
- “Real world” application is a cheap coat of paint over rotting wood
- Need to pose a situation that begs a natural question, an uncertainty that must be resolved. Can just as easily be abstract or practical, that’s not important.
- Delete the textbook. Start a fight. Take all the mathy scaffolding away at the beginning (variables, formulas), and only layer it in as our exploration begs for it. Let it be the aspirin to the headache. (This is messaging and storytelling too!!!)
- Ask for wrong answers and best guesses (not to reward the best guess, but to make some low stakes contribution)
- Love your work, but not your job. A job won’t love you back.
Good to Great, Jim Collins
- In a good to great transition, leaders who were lower in traditional charisma performed better. They created environments for healthy debate, where tough facts were addressed, rather than being swept aside by some persuasive vision.
- Hedgehog concept = something you are positioned to be the best in the world at.
- “Building alignment” just isn’t really a thing with these companies. It’s not about persuading people to a new vision. No name, program, or fanfare for their transformations. Instead, it was about taking clear consistent steps forward with visible results.
- Do things that don’t scale, Paul Graham
- You can provide consultant-like attentiveness to users of your products, as long as they aren’t paying you for that attentiveness. That way, they’re grateful even when you don’t solve all their problems. But if they’re paying you for attentiveness, they expect you to do everything.
- Alan went on medical leave in June, and although we were all concerned, we also had a sense of opportunism to try new things and show him that the business could run without him. I was doing sales, finance, and mgmt in addition to my pre-existing client portfolio.
- We leaned into the new streaming model, closed deals, and tightened costs.
- After he passed away, that sense of opportunism was gone. Initially I had a flight response, but I worked through it. I did what I could to stabilize (~2 weeks), and then set my intentions.
- I learned how in a crisis, you want resolution. Badly. Decisive, urgent action. But our grief counsellor encouraged us to wait before making major decisions. What’s the rush? You just want closure? “You’re trying to make a decision about an uncertainty covered in chaos.” This was really good advice.
- I learned what not to say to people during a crisis, by way of some things people said to me. Ex conductor CEO said “if I died I would want my business to continue..” ..so offside.
- I also learned how you feel like you should be thinking about the crisis all the time. But that is so draining. It’s better to take a break, do something else, something distracting, then come back with clearer eyes.
- I learned about shared responsibility, and how hard that can be esp. for entrepreneurs. Alan was hesitant to share financial details with us until absolutely necessary; we could have been working through those things together.
- After I left, I learned how strange it is to not have any responsibility at all. I made lists of things I could do and then felt nervous about doing all of them, since nothing would be left. I learned having responsibilities is really important.
- “1-hour commute” is the measuring stick for a labour market. Any longer, and the city’s labour market must be fracturing, which reduces its productivity.
- Land market prices are a crucial force for urban design. (a little too libertarian at moments but a clear argument at least…)
- Destination-based walk scores do not account for paths designed for walking as lesiure, walking without a destination.
- Positioning requires developing a point of view, which requires pattern matching, which requires seeing similar scenarios.
- To do important work, you have to work on important problems in the first place.
- Work with the door open. You will have more distractions in the short term, but more encounters that will lead to more interesting and important work in the long term.
- Remember to keep planting the acorns that might grow into oak trees, especially after a major success
- Believe a theory enough to go ahead, doubt it enough to notice its flaws
- “I finally adopted what I called ‘Great Thoughts Time.’ When I went to lunch Friday noon, I would only discuss great thoughts after that.”
- Visionaries are useless references for Early majority
- Visionaries want a 10x, majority want 10% improvement
- Must establish a beachhead, ruthlessly narrow and well defined. Dreams of capturing 1% of a 10B market are dangerous.
- Majority/Pragmatists favour a whole solution.
- To build an “image” of your beachhead, “tap into the fund of anecdotes that actually carries business knowledge in our culture.” And if you can’t easily remember it, don’t bother.
- “The cultural attributes most widespread in a group must be the most ancient.”
- True timeless knowledge: data are the stars’ patterns, knowledge is using that to sail across the ocean. (in this case the data doesn’t change)
- Understand the situations where your brand should be removed or receded (ex. packaging for a surprise/gift)
- Strikethrough and update old opinions
- Building height and density is generally consistent from the city out to surrounding towns, and to the next major city
- Why has Japanese urbanization developed so differently than American cities, which have a clear, dense, expensive centre? Great transit networks to develop around to reduce advantage of central position?
- Streets are narrow, blocks are short. Easy to shop both sides, cars drive more carefully.
- In an environment accustomed to high WIP, well-meaning people will have optimized for the wrong things w/ coping mechanisms (ex. optimizing handoffs, “getting ahead” as opposed to just being involved, rationing out peoples’ time and attention, “red-yellow-green” status updates)
- Pair up with an advertiser/podcaster; record the ad; Anchor inserts it into episodes, incl past; paid by CPM
- HBS refuses to assign “rightness” on any morals grounds
- (Not fully in-line with my reading of HBR, which emphasizes the personal in management and leadership…)
- Scan everything, incl environments. (already doing faces, movements/motion capture)
- Developing rituals: people and places to check in with everyday.
- Low resolution opera. More polygons/better tech will not improve your story.
- See: Dreamworks animation, people give in to animated worlds by default.
- Modulate safety to create variety in the pace and feel of different levels (safe to take your time, safe to stay where you are)
- Accommodate multiple approaches; level should feel permissive
- Each stage have its own story, and should support the story of the area, which supports the story of the world.
- Will games have a Shakespeare? If they learn to listen. Will be like when movies learned to talk. Ex. characters that recognize and relate to us.
- Four domains where we consume media/game: the hearth, the nook, the workbench, and “anywhere”/in-between space.
- Working on a browser, directive was that it must be fast.
- Team optimized for speed and compromised elsewhere.
- Simple directive, made it memorable, made for easy tradeoffs. (ex. team could add new functionality, but if it slowed browser down, then it would need to be “paid for” elsewhere.)
- Diagram actors and actions, similar style to a graph database
- Find bounded “contexts” to structure and break down your project
- “I” created more connection than “we” (as in, I the employee vs. We the company)
- First relate, then solve
- Use their language, be specific. (For CI, this is the importance of understanding the incumbent/status quo)
- Vital to separate type I and type II decisions: hard to reverse, high impact of positive/negative outcomes
- Most decisions can be made with 80% of the information you think you need, and that 80% is usually readily available.
- Success attracts more success via positive feedback loops. People buy best selling books because they’re best selling books.
- Food donors can receive a tax write off for food that would otherwise go to waste, so Copia can charge a fee and pay drivers to deliver it where it’s needed.
- “It’s kind of ridiculous, all these food trends and diets. The 100-mile, paleo, keto, slow food—they’re all pieces of the larger Indigenous food puzzle that we’ve known for thousands of years.”
- Mostly clear on benefits (ex. existing mental models) but not a clear single thesis (reduce time to opportunity stance)
- Granular things to note while auditing
- No practical tips for accessing/reviewing products other than consumer sites
- Discounts train buyers to wait, and cheapen the brand. Brand managers track a short term sales bump against some baseline, but fail to adjust that baseline as discounts cheapen the brand.
- Could someone tell what your game (product?) was about, how it works, and what it’s called just by looking over a stranger’s shoulder?
- Need clear separation between “three reads.” Prone to overload second read. Menus and options can “invade” the first read.
- Animation can be a tool for swapping reads. (increasing the prominence of a menu once it’s selected)
- Built a tool for anyone to create transform an image into the Spotify visual system. “Unfuckupable.” But it’s spirit was about building from, not building to, brand guidelines.
- Use both familiarity and novelity. (Ex. A familiar Coke bottle, but surprising elements coming out of it)
- Enabling creative people is about giving them something to work from, not work to.
- Plain language artifact for internal and external alignment.
- Specific, full sentences, verbs. Not a list of vague values.
- Wrong things: Leaderboards, badges, game-style elements. But still evaluating student work rather than interpreting it.
- Right things: Player is the cause. Player does something, game interprets and reflects it. Player adjusts and tries again.
- Giving to “your own” vs to the world. How far should prosperity be spread? (similar theme as Black Panther)
- Disproportionate impact made by curing diseases and saving millions of lives in Africa
- Would the foundation give to save lives in a country that the US opposes? (Ex Russia)
- Sees sounds as colour
- Distinct format and style system, each instance communicates an idea, whole palette works together
- Pin up physical work
- Set focus areas and boundaries
- Contract workers as second tier citizens, not entitled to the same benefits and cultural participation. Must carry a different coloured badge.
- A source of reference for what we (think) we know about what we do
- Convenience encroaches on effort; effort gives us meaning
- Similar thesis to Michael Pollan’s Cooked
- 60s responded with individuality over conforming to convenience
- Now, individuality is made convenient — mass individualization
- Sustained exhaustion is a mark of stupidity, not a badge of honour
- Benefits focused on getting people out of the office (food delivery to door)
- Meetings as a last resort
- Three clear positions and counter-positions
- Ethical, not ideological.
- Reactive, not programmatic.
- Detached, not engaged.
- Six dimensions/dualities for CEO to manage with their time and energy.
- Could be library or store; could be open to public
- Recommendations, book club – translates well to remote employees
- Possibly increasing diversity of applicants, but no students who ultimately enrol
- Puzzles: turn over all the information with persistence
- Mysteries: connect the clues, make judgments with expertise
- Journalists and business students uncovered Enron’s financial manipulations with publicly available statements
- Clear statements of strategy, for the world to see, summarized into four initiatives
- Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
- Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
- Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
- Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
- Needed something that was memorable but meaningless – empty vessel to be filled with meaning
- “Rose, Bud, Thorn,” -> Working well, area for improvement, pain points
Amazon letter to shareholders, 2018
- High standards are essential to remaining relevant over time
- They are domain specific (need to be learned for each domain)
- Amazon meetings start with a six page memo. Writing a clear memo requires revision, time, and practice. No crutch of slides.
- Initial meeting about eSports had no call to action, just, “we should know about this”
- Be prepared on everything that affects your organization and people
- Once they decided to launch, attitude was “there’s no certainty here”
- First three represent CI, last two are strategy
- Answers need to be updated constantly
- Ask a simpler version of the question
- If a new construct proves useful, try reframing the whole problem around it rather than the original constructs.
- Borrow six principles from nature.
- Can be at odds with mantras of “focus” and “efficiency,” which are important for the short term.
Book: Biomimicry, Janine Benyus
- Designing our industries like redwood forests. Biased for the long term. High diversity of players and rich information flows.
- Regulators change rules, industry must adapt to their new habitat. Ex: companies must take back products for recycling, not put burden on consumer. Now in best interest to build products that are easy to breakdown and re-use.
- “As a service” economy is more sustainable, creates incentives for producers to maximize lifetime and efficiency over long term
- Policy should be broad and directional, daring companies to beat competitors to the new world.
- If it can be done with a more traditional model, it probably should. Books were the best fit because of the volume of unique items.
- Didn’t want to use unique URLs per print ad because they needed people to learn the URL. (Couldn’t take consumer understanding of “amazon.com/…” for granted)
- Adding cool stuff is easy; Removing features to find the core takes strength.
- Convey elements of a specific identity direction without the precision of a mock-up
- Not a moodboard, which is typically a collection of disparate reference material
- Without the “holding environment” of an organization or office, participants worked to create their own with personal routines and connections.
- Productivity was a common preoccupation, unraveling in some cases into the existential, conflating work and life identities. Working, rather than belonging, was the primary means for self identification.
- This leads to high exposure and extreme emotional volatlity
- Paradoxically, women are told that they have innate “maternal instincts,” but external pressures govern their motherhood
- Distinction between loving the child, but regretting being subject to the institution of motherhood
- Do you focus more on your promotion, or what your users say? Do you position in minds or in lives?
- Promotion should be useful
- Q: This study was only B2C, where user and buyer are the same. Does it become harder to embody a Usage Brand when they are different people?
- To truly understand, study their process, not just their output (“Make me into a pepperoni”)
- Wherever money is exchanged, so is information
Transcript of Debates in the House of Commons, 1869 (book 2)
- Minister Galt speaks to the Fenian invasion.
- Canada has been an ideal neighbour to the US, even sending troops to fight for the North.
- Meanwhile the US has been complicit in the existence of the Fenian militia, America ignorant and viewing Canada as a way to assert itself vs Britain. We kicked their ass anyways.
- Must govern with resolve and identify strongly as Canadians.
Ch 4, Sharon Vattay
- The market building as a symbol for government efficacy and commitment to the people. Though, real gains were to be made by the government in controlling food supply.
- In Toronto, market was placed desirably, between the institutions to its west and the residents to its east.
- City hall was once part of the market building. The connection between market and government has been reduced, but markets are making a comeback with cultural force.
Ch 10, Réjean Legault
- Brutalism is uniquely Canadian: it is functionally reassuring and protective.
- “Fit” is conflated with merit. When those assessing fit are mostly white, people of colour are constantly questioned.
- When Roderique was in a hiring position, she too “was not immune to the allure of fit,” looking for people with similar interests to connect with.
- Citing Ritu Bhasin, “People feel they have to change who they are, move away from their authentic self to get ahead. But there’s only so much conforming and masking we can do. It eats away at your spirit. And after a while, you’ll either be pushed out or self-select out, because it’s exhausting to be someone you’re not.”
- “I don’t miss the isolation and the nagging sense that other people didn’t feel I belonged.”
- Client pressure can accelerate change
Canadian Museum of History: Dreamworks exhibit
- Putting models on display can help centre a team
- “By default, people give in to animated worlds”
- Pitch the rawest version of the idea
- Systems should talk to us the way we talk to each other.
- What’s important? What should I do about it? How do I act?
- “Self-help advice tends to reflect the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawns it.”
- Today’s priorities are personal optimizations, proven by metrics. Pre-financial crisis era was hopeful thinking.
- “Whose problems are worth solving?”
- The average US woman is size 16-18. Plus-size a $20B spend today, outpacing overall apparel on growth, underserved market.
- “Companies are always asking women over a certain size to wait just a little longer, apologize just a little more about the scale of difficulty their very common bodies represent, and be just a little more grateful that anyone is getting around to them at all.”
- Stereotypes are embedded in the decisions of entrepreneurs, avoiding plus sizes for fear of being perceived as down-market.
- Blunt, black-and-white communication to cut against colourful packaging. Ex “High in sugar”
- Producers are reformulating to avoid to stickers
- Masterful data storytelling. Aggregate data assembled with the best available. Human profiles for vivid illustration. Subsets/samples for deeper questions.
- Reads as if narrated by the authors’ natural curiosity.
- A valuation is a story with numbers – much like any business case
- A valuation should “sing a tune”
- Price is what someone is willing to pay; Value is based on projected cash flow
- Core idea in a rough sketch
- Elegant ways of contextualizing different types of feedback in a cycle
- Visual should strike a big picture understanding without details needed (Bart), but should invite more curiosity and questions (Lisa)
- Bell pushing for a blacklist of known piracy sites
- With music, piracy was addressed by introducing new business models and products that people were willing to pay for (not by whacking piracy sites while others pop up)
- Turn the premise of each essay into a question, then see if it can come up naturally in conversation
- Research offline, as online sources tend to repeat each other
- Write argument components on cards, then rearrange them to find the throughlines
- Ad supported digital only, picking up where local papers left off – competitive advantage showing local ads in context of local content
- US Fair Housing act protects against advertising with preference by race, gender, country of origin, handicaps.
- Facebook makes it easy for rental advertisers to exclude categories from rental ads.
- Original story over a year ago, Facebook said they would implement changes, none made.
- Build a message for each scenario
- Clear colour mapping between scenarios and changing text
- Are these lines parallel? Meets the definition of “two lines that will never touch”
- Expose the limits of definitions – typical definition only applies to straight lines
- What do you mean by that word? When is that definition irrelevant?
- Start with one compelling “new way to play” – becomes the basis for the game
- Many new moves to learn, but only ever learning one character at a time.
- Once you’ve learned to play the new way, Nintendo takes it away.
- Introduce a new idea in a safe way, with only subtle instructions
- Add to the idea, add consequences
- Twist the idea with a surprise
- Offer a conclusion or challenge for advanced skills
- Where did the new traffic come from? Where were these consumers previously shopping? Express as a percent of the competitor’s total base
- Income levels of defecting customers was comparable to existing Whole Foods consumers
- Thasos sources location data from “first party” app-consumer relationships
- Accelerate time to opportunity stance by fielding customer-centric questions from PdM and Design (as opposed to competitor-centric questions).
- Seek out and enthusiastically investigate unobvious competitors (or more generally, any competing alternative workflow, including free or offline tools).
- Spreadsheet for competitive analysis
- Creative work requires freedom from interruption, not necessarily freedom from noise
- Some ambient noise may actually stimulate the creative process
- Why do we struggle with things that we need to use so often?
- Ex. So many different types of doors. Light switches with unclear control mapping.
- Constraints help in novel situations. But, USB port: constrained, but not signified.
- Limit burden on knowledge in the head by placing knowledge in the world.
- Natural mapping is contextual, including dependence on cultural norms.
- If all else fails, standardization is valid. If a new way of doing things would only be slightly better, the designer should stay consistent to avoid new costs of learning.
- “Slips” are when the goal is right but execution is wrong – more likely to happen to experts, who are operating on subconscious
- Our things make us smart. Humans are great at inventing things to overcome our limits.
- Treating policy as a design problem, trying out an idea with a small group and iterating with feedback
- Basic income removes footwork of working while receiving unemployment insurance, makes it less treasful to start working again
- Shows value of a catalog for inspiration.
- Standouts: win-loss sparkline to show streaks rather than rates; icicle diagram showing how an amount breaks down (think market segments and sub segments).
- Good info design allows people to discover things they wouldn’t have sought out. Easy to glance at system level, drill into specific nuance, and compare.
- “When people start playing with the data, they start seeing stuff they hadn’t realized before.”
- Starting point: Why did this person think this was OK in this context?
- Delta between design, evolved use, planned use, actual (ex 10% of number of cars = number of brakes – rule of thumb)
- Many issues lined up an the accident
- Don’t write as if your audience “really ought to read this”
- “Narrated learning” as a sturdy writing format. (Think of ‘Cooked’)
- Encourage disagreement, not adherence to standards
- Captain’s log as structured reflection.
- Three parts: Tweet length recap, detailed progress, and “lessons and questions”
- Meditative practice even if content is mundane
- Let people have lives! Let people disengage from work.
- Even if you normally enjoy company of others, forcing friendliness in a work context can undermine that joy
- Counter-balance to the power of variable rewards a la Hooked
- Many of the designers who created these products are now avoiding them
- What are the design ethics of exploiting this vulnerability?
- In effort to capture our attention, these designs favour impulse over intetnion
- Teachers and researchers create external social benefits, while lawyers and financiers play zero sum.
- Mind map all attributes of the subject and explore relationships
- Use labels and icons