Why are we reluctant to measure what matters most?

original article
Measuring What Matters

Jan. 4, 2016
Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)
The authors say that “The very real need to determine how best to allocate foundations’ limited resources requires generating robust performance measures that drive accountability, learning, and impact—for each and every grant.” They provide five grant performance measurement traps and describe how to avoid them.
This is interesting because most of us are on the opposite side of this concern. We are the potential grantees seeking to succeed at getting our proposed work funded. It’s good to see this process through the eyes of the foundation officer and the grant-making agency. Understanding their needs and success measurement should hone our proposals both for impact and for success. I have certainly fallen into  “The At-Least-It’s-Measurable Trap”.(Michalko)
P.S. I think the SSIR is a very well-done magazine with thoughtful complementary bloggers. It’s worth subscribing to their newsletter.
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Density, Dinner, Design

Meerkats at San Diego Zoo
Meerkats at San Diego Zoo (youtube)

SearCh for humourIstic and Extravagant acroNyms and Thoroughly Inappropriate names For Important Clinical trials (SCIENTIFIC): qualitative and quantitative systematic study | The BMJ Constance Malpas

Carnivores try to get prey out of a box, not all succeed (VIDEO)|Slate.com

Map Envisions What a Worldwide Subway System Would Be Like | WIRED

  • The first because it addresses a particular dimension of what my colleague, Lorcan Dempsey, in 2004 christened ‘Acronymic Density‘. It is academic satire of a high order. Who hasn’t bristled at acronyms that are the result of the ‘Tolstoy Maneuver’? The title of the article is an example of that technique.
  • The second because who hasn’t done something similar to their pet cat or dog? This confirms that meerkats mistakenly think cuteness is a survival tactic.
  • The third because I love subways. Transferring at Lincoln Center for the Robespierre stop in Paris would be wonderful. (Michalko)
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I don’t disagree but I will argue anyway.

Then, of course, there's that movie from 1997 The Devil's Advocate
Then, of course, there’s that movie from 1997 The Devil’s Advocate

original article

What to Do When a “Devil’s Advocate” Tries to Derail Your Project
by Joanne Cleaver
hbr.org
January 18, 2016

A devil’s advocate is no longer generally understood as the canon lawyer charged with arguing against the canonization of a candidate. These days they are the people who “…tend to pop up just when a project is about to launch. The idea has been validated and vetted, and then the devil’s advocate threatens to derail the whole affair with a volley of last-minute questions that appear to undermine the core rationale.” They must be dealt with and this suggests some sensible approaches.

Cleaver comes at this from a very particular perspective (she helps firms correct how they advance women and measures their progress) but her suggestions are generalizable. My favorite: Focus on shared goals, not winning this argument. The response to “let me play devil’s advocate…” is “No, I’d rather you didn’t. We all agreed that x must change so let’s build on that.” (Michalko)

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To say that the universe exists is silly…

original article

Remembering Minsky
edge.org
January 26, 2016

By now you know that Marvin Minsky, the last of the first generation Artificial Intelligence pioneers, died last week. The NYT obituary begins “Marvin Minsky, who combined a scientist’s thirst for knowledge with a philosopher’s quest for truth as a pioneering explorer of artificial intelligence, work that helped inspire the creation of the personal computer and the Internet, died on Sunday night in Boston. He was 88. ” This recommended article contains reminiscences and anecdotes from his colleagues as well as some selected excerpts from his writings.

If you were involved at all in the early days of computing you came across Minsky as author, team leader, speaker and provocateur. For someone like me his thinking  was often too difficult but he punctuated with slogan-like sayings that stayed with you – “Don’t just do something, stand there.”  The range of anecdotes in this assemblage is very engaging. Edge.org is the web manifestation of the Reality Club the salon in which Minsky was a regular participant. (Michalko)

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Search and curation

original article

Lists are the new search
ben-evans.com
blog by Benedict Evans
January 31, 2016
Lorcan Dempsey
Evans summarized the point of his own blog post masterfully when he tweeted “All curation grows until it requires search. All search grows until it requires curation.”

Ben Evans says he works “at Andreessen Horowitz (‘a16z‘), a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley that invests in technology companies. I try to work out what’s going on and what will happen next. I say he is notorious for his insights. He is, after all, the one who first declared “mobile is eating the world.” This is another insightful entry that is particularly germane for the library domain as we think about what value we add to the enterprises that support us. (Michalko)

P.S. Evans is a Brit, a Cambridge grad, and viciously snarky about his new home, the Bay Area.  Silicon Valley VC says there’s ‘nothing’ in SF, feels wrath of Bay Area Twitter – SFGate

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IoT – hype and reality

original article

Hype vs. Reality: A Reality Check on the Internet of Things
sloanreview.mit.edu blog
by Michael Fitzgerald
January 28, 2016

According to Fitzgerald ” The Internet of Things has plenty of hype — it’s going to be big, really big — but also plenty of detractors. The naysayers breathily predict everything from the surveillance state to a wrecked economy to people enslaved by machines.” In this post he provides nine bits of information to consider.

This is very short because it provides links to the sources he thinks constitute a good update on the thinking about The Internet of Things. They are worth clicking through and reviewing. I particularly recommend the Cisco manager’s take on security as we’ve featured it here in ATF. Also review the extensive infographic – On the Internet nobody knows you’re a toaster.(Michalko)

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Retro, Weird, Wacky

 (

Buster Keaton in College (1927)
Buster Keaton in College (1927)

Kodak’s Old-School Response to Disruption – The New Yorker

Who, What, Where, When, Weird – Pacific Standard

Buster Keaton Tries, Fails to Make Milkshakes | Mental Floss

  • The first because it suggests that the urge towards all things retro is a sustainable niche business – books next?
  • The second because it did not occur to me that entire categories of news not just ‘newspapers’ would be disrupted – I always wondered who wanted the ‘news of the weird’ job.
  • The third because I never understood his brand of comedy as a young person. Now the stone face and the knowing eyes make me smile and, sometimes, laugh. (Michalko)
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One device to rule them all…ha

original article

Why Desktop UX Still Has Something To Teach Mobile
fastcodesign.com
by Scott Jenson
January 14, 2016

Jenson says that “New technologies may usurp old ones nearly every year, but many of us still reach for our old-school laptops. That’s no accident….This isn’t just nostalgia, there is something deeply inadequate about mobile. This post is about figuring out how to fix it.”

We are constantly reading about how mobile is eating the world but here I am doing this blog post on my laptop for all the good reasons you can imagine and that Jenson outlines. Consider as he does ‘text precision’ or ‘copy/paste’.  Anything that requires much of that and I push the tablet and phone aside. This is a very nice summary of mobile challenges for people who are neither UX experts or zealots. (Michalko)

 

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Who needs to take solace in a quiet bathroom stall?

original article

The Internet Isn’t What’s Distracting Us The Most At Work
fastcompany.com
by Lydia Dishman
January 15, 2015

How we spend time at work not working is changing the way we manage work-life balance, and it might not be what you think. The author of this post breaks down an infographic displaying the analysis of a recent workplace survey that shows traditional workplace distractions trump digital pursuits when employees are on the clock.

Not to keep you in suspense here are: “the most common ways workers reported spending time at work not working, in order of which activity takes up the most time:

from http://www.bamboohr.com/blog/workplace-distractions-infographic
from http://www.bamboohr.com/blog/workplace-distractions-infographic
  1. Taking breaks to visit the office kitchen/water cooler/break room (other than for lunch)
  2. Going to the bathroom
  3. Participating in small talk/gossip with coworkers
  4. Corresponding (phone, email, text, social media) with family members
  5. Surfing the web/online personal errands (e.g., paying bills online, online shopping, etc.)
  6. Corresponding (phone, email, text, social media) with non-work-related friends
  7. Using social media for non-work-related reasons
  8. Watching TV (including mobile and computer)”

Her analysis is interesting. Particularly the men-women and upper-lower level differences. Why would senior managers need nearly twice the bathroom breaks and trips to the break room? You might click over to the original analysis where you can get a full look at the infographic. (Michalko)

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Leader, Manager, Culture – choose one

super-executive
courtesy http://www.advantedgesuccesscoaching.com/

original article

We Don’t Need Another Hero CEO
strategy-business.com/blog
by Sally Helgesen

The author writes a post about the paradox that persists in our thinking about management. As she puts it, “The need to build and foster collaborative teams has become a kind of organizational holy grail. And yet the mania for seeing organizational leaders as either all-conquering heroes or unabashed villains continues unabated.”

This nicely unpacks the CEO-hero meme that pervades the popular management literature. It used to be that we heard about “Jack Welch’s GE” and a few decades on we talk about “Elon Musk’s Tesla”.  Not much different. She points out that thinking that a manager is a different beast than a leader had its genesis in a 1977 article by an influential Harvard Business School professor –Abraham Zaleznik. And then she makes a convincing case that most successes come from collaborative teamwork not the C-suite. If you need an influential ‘C’ it’s culture. (Michalko)

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