“You don’t have to read fashion magazines. Open the window and look outside when you wake up in the morning. A man who can cook rice is a hundred times cooler.”
– Yukio Akamine, quoted by Derek Guy
Porque no los dos
The most powerful research analysis move I know is “how can both of these things be true at the same time?”
Control your time
In 2023 nothing feels as much like “work” as eight 30-minute meetings across the course of a day.
Like lots of people in leadership roles, my work happens in meetings. Saying yes or no. Giving endorsement. And yet, that’s not the entirely of my work.
So here’s Robin Rendle with a timely (ha!) reminder:
A company will try and steal your time in ten million tiny ways. That’s not to say those conversations and Slack threads are malicious, but if you don’t guard your time — design your days, so to speak — then they’ll curse you with only enough time to do half-baked work.
The number one question I get asked in Design Thinking Workshops
For the last six months I’ve been delivering a lot of Design Thinking workshops for non-designers. The participants were mostly knowledge workers whose work touches service delivery or influences how people use complex products.
The workshops all went well.
And then at the end, when I say “any questions”, people regularly say:
“I love this; I get it; how will I get my boss to let me do this”?
My cheeky answer, which I rarely give, is: “it’s already your job; why is your boss stopping you?”
The real (or perhaps realpolitik) answer is: just start doing it. Instead of writing notes to yourself or for others in a document, start making notes on post-its and move them around. If you are making something that will be seen or used by customers, get as much feedback as you can, as early as you can, in the most structured way you can, from people who are as much like real users as possible. And then as you make changes based on that input, keep getting that feedback and keep learning from it.
Everything else is details.
They are calling anyway
“I’ve come to believe the apt metaphors lurk in fantasy novels and occult texts. As my colleague Ross Douthat wrote, this is an act of summoning. The coders casting these spells have no idea what will stumble through the portal. What is oddest, in my conversations with them, is that they speak of this freely. These are not naifs who believe their call can be heard only by angels. They believe they might summon demons. They are calling anyway.”
Today in references
- Susan Leigh Star’s The Ethnography of Infrastructure
- Bowker and Star’s Sorting Things Out
- Present-at-hand and ready-at-hand and both at once
Margaret Mitchell on AI
These systems, she said, are terribly suited to being integrated into search engines. “They’re not trained to predict facts,” she told me. “They’re essentially trained to make up things that look like facts.”
– From an Ezra Klein piece on AI in the NYT
Five things I like right now
Super into Ibrahim Maalouf.
Severance. Just started it though. No spoilers!
Just powered through the first three books of Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards Sequence.
Made Babish’s Ted Lasso shortbread for the second time. Takes all day, but is so worth it.
Technology reveals the irrationality of organisations.
Five things I like right now
Makaya Craven’s Deciphering the Message is pretty great
Slow Horses. Burned through two seasons in pretty short order.
Denning and Dunham’s The Innovators Way.
Innovation, they write, is not simply an invention, a policy, or a process to be managed. It is a personal skill that can be learned, developed through practice, and extended into organizations
Hetty McKinnon’s Everything Oil is amazing.
Super niche, but I think I’ve changed my mind on the value of using specific journey mapping tools, like TheyDo or Smaply, over open-ended playgrounds like Miro.
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