Committee or Working Group?

The difference between a working group and a committee

working groups relax organizational boundaries while committees reinforce them

November 12, 2023

Replace AI with Automation”

Emily M Bender:

I think that discussions of this technology become much clearer when we replace the term AI with the word automation”. Then we can ask:

  • What is being automated?
  • Who’s automating it and why?
  • Who benefits from that automation?
  • How well does the automation work in its use case that we’re considering?
  • Who’s being harmed?
  • Who has accountability for the functioning of the automated system
  • What existing regulations already apply to the activities where the automation is being used?

October 3, 2023

Five things I like right now


Apple Music just started showing me a new Discovery Radio” channel. So far I’m getting a lot of downtempo electronic jazz, like St Germain but new. Cool.


Justified. It’s a little of-its-time (early 2010s), but it’s good, too.


I just finished Kill it With Fire by Marianne Bellotti. It’s about replacing legacy software systems. Bellotti is an anthropologist by training, and though she’s clearly a fantastic engineer, the book is really about change management.

There are three or four fundamental concepts that were new to me in Kill it With Fire that I will be wheeling out for clients from now on.


Been so sick recently that I’ve just been making easy things with lots of veggies.


Most organisations operate on deductive reasoning. They know what they have, they know how those things are arranged, and they know what outcome that produces.

The building blocks are things, arrangements and outcomes.

Most design thinking” operates on abductive reasoning. Compared to deductive reasoning, the equation is reversed. There’s a desired outcome, we know something about the arrangement of the situation, and we’re trying to come up with the things that, when suitably arranged, produce the desired outcome.

It turns out that coming up with new things is hard and surprisingly expensive.

But there’s another way to think about things. Inductive reasoning, uses the same building blocks, but it’s the arrangement that we create, not the things. That is, we know the outcome, we know the things we can use, but we have to come out with a way to make use of them to achieve (or explain) the outcome.

I’m increasingly convinced that most of the time, most organisations need inductive problem solving, not design thinking”.

September 23, 2023 now

Code over Requirements

On Brian Marick’s Oddly Influenced, he was talking about the historical antecedents of the Agile Manifesto. He explains that agile emerged at a time of tension in software development. There was a pushback against the distinction between creating software requirements and doing software development. Marick tells the story that before agile, the work of creating the documents that directed software development was seen as higher status than writing the code. Agile is a rejection of that, and an elevation of code over requirements.

For Agile, code is seen as real and requirements are speculation or a model. (This is maybe why programmers call themselves engineers: engineers make things that are real.)

Here’s the problem: code is a model, too.

September 23, 2023


Dorian Taylor, on agile and requirements gathering”:

The problem is that a requirements gathering phase” has a persistent downward pressure because everybody wants to get building”. As such they are very rarely adequately resourced, because if they were, they would literally be the job, as the requirements don’t stop accruing just because the requirements phase does.

But what if we’re discovering new ways of creating software?

The Agile people assert that this is what iterating is for, and they’re right some of the time, but many of the questions about what the software should or should not do can be settled without writing even a single line of code

September 21, 2023

All fandoms are about the same thing

Kennedy is also a perfect example of what I believe was one of the biggest mistakes of the 2010s, which was to treat conspiracy theories as political movements and conspiracy theorists as those movements’ leaders. These communities, obviously, have political dimensions to them, but I think they are, first and foremost, fandoms. And are all fandoms about the same thing: the news.

Ryan Broderick

August 28, 2023

Learn and Play

The only way to learn is by playing
the only way to win is by learning
and the only way to begin is by beginning

– Sam Reich’s introduction to every Game Changer show.

August 27, 2023

Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. So, keep moving, keep growing, keep learning. See you at work.

– Denzel Washington, NAACP Image Awards 2017

July 29, 2023

Five things I like right now


Kurt Elling’s forthcoming album SuperBlue: The iridescent Spree with Charlie Hunter is getting released slowly on Apple Music. So good!


Finally got around to watching The Mandalorian. A-


Gosh Roger Martin can write. Just finished Playing to Win.


Made my banana bread (actually Donna Hay’s recipe) but subbed out the eggs for flax meal. I reckon I could tell the difference in a side-by-side but it’s minor.


AG Lafley and Roger Martin:

Deep consumer understanding is at the heart of the strategy discussion. To be effective, strategy must be rooted in a desire to meet user needs in a way that creates value for both the company and the consumer.


innovation must be consumer centered if it is to be meaningful and provide competitive advantage

July 4, 2023 now

I'm on Mastodon