Jurgen Appelo – Complexity vs Lean the Big Showdown

Lean software development promotes removing waste as one of its principles. However, complexity science seems to show that waste can have various functions. In complex systems things that look like waste can actually be a source for stability and innovation; Lean software development preaches optimize the whole as a principle, and then translates this to optimization of the value chain. However, I believe that complexity science shows us a value chain is an example of linear thinking, which usually leads to sub-optimization of the whole organization because it is a non-linear complex system.  — Jurgen Appelo

Exactly. Somewhat reflects my own thoughts and is something that has been on my mind quite a bit of late amidst an organization and projects hell bent on removing not just the optimum amount of waste from a process but removing all white space from the environment in pursuit of maximum efficiency toward the achievement of what they already know how to do. (breathe, Brett…)

As I wrote in KM vs LSS vs CPI, too often “improvement” is seen as requiring a single, all or nothing approach. When, in fact, improvement and optimal performance comes from a mix of techniques. Sometimes waste is a hindrance, and sometimes it’s where you find the gold.

 

Design decisions – Shuffle Play as default on Spotify

I am really enjoying Spotify since signing up a month or so ago, but one thing really* irritates me – the default play mode is “Shuffle Play”. There’s a big button at the top of every list of songs, be it a playlist, radio station, or an album. And when you click on a song to play, it seems to automatically assume that you want to shuffle the songs.
This may be OK for most albums, but it’s a bit jarring when you go from “Speak to Me” to “Any Colour You Like” when what you were expecting was the seamless transition to “Breathe” on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Which really needs to be listened to as an album, not a random mix of songs.
I don’t know how the conversation went when they set this as the default, and put that big-ass button at the top of each list of songs, but I’m going to guess it is just a reflection of how music is produced, distributed, and consumed by a large part of the music consumer base.
Maybe I’m old school, but coming from an age when you listened to albums, and not just songs, I still prefer to listen to albums straight through, the way they were put together and intended by the artists. Sure, some albums are just collections of songs, but even with those it is comforting to hear them in their proper order. Nostalgia alert :)
I also tend to gravitate towards and listen to albums that are meant to be listened to in a specific order, concept albums such as the aforementioned Dark Side of the Moon and concert albums in which an entire performance is captured.
Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate shuffle play. Over the holidays, for instance, shuffle play got plenty of use with the various Christmas and holiday playlists we had playing as we decorated, cooked, and celebrated. I just wish it wasn’t the default. Or that I could change that default.
tl;dr Is it possible to change the default play setting in Spotify to be not shuffle play?
* A lot of other little things just kind of irritate me

Hello world! – Thinking In Bits

After more than a few years of mucking about with WordPress, I’ve decided it’s time to get serious about developing  a better understanding of how it all works under the hood. And to use that newfound understanding to  design a theme (or two) and a plug-in (or two) that will help me build exactly the type of site I want.

Source: Hello world! – Thinking In Bits

Words in the works

A lot has been happening over the past couple of weeks, quite a few things I want to write about and ideas to explore. It’s just been a very busy couple of weeks, and all of my writing (and coding and much of my thinking) has been aimed at my day job. You know, the one that pays the bills.

Here’s a list of drafts I’ve created in the past two weeks or so that I’m working on in bits and pieces and will hopefully start pushing out in the next couple of days. Or maybe over the Christmas slowdown. (“Christmas slowdown”? Yeah, that’ll happen :)

  • Layers of abstraction and the cost of convenience
  • Passion and Warfare in St. Louis – an evening with Steve Vai
  • If everyone gave him $20
  • From Android to iPhone
  • Some notes and thoughts on WordCampUS 2017
  • Accidents of Phenotype
  • The work of art (as opposed to “a work of art”)

And one I haven’t started yet that I’ve had in the back of my mind for years and was brought to the front earlier tonight, that will likely be called What Capital Wants  (see Capitalism is Skynet for a hint what that might be about).

But right now I need to put together some notes on a proposed talk about crowdsourcing innovation for JiveWorld 2017.

Imagine no employers, no employees too

In my June 2008 post The evolution of the employee-employer relationship I wrote the following:

The challenge for organizations in this situation becomes not providing employees the training they need to carry out the company’s goals and projects, but rather providing employees with goals and projects that engage the employees and effectively use what they are learning for themselves.

This was in response to some things I had read at the time and was something of a follow-up to another post from April 2004, in which I wrote:

I’ve long believed that the prevalence of knowledge work in organizations today will (eventually) fundamentally shift the employee – employer relationship. In many ways, knowledge workers will come to be “self-employed” in the sense that they are working to improve themselves and to make an impact on the world at large and not just within the company they happen to be “working for” at the time.

Though I haven’t written much (at all?) about this particular aspect of thinking in bits since that 2008 post, the ideas are never far from my the front of my mind. It is hard not to think along these lines as I wonder about the future of work. Not just for me, but for my kids, and for the people with whom I work every day. Even within an organization, there is a certain amount of this, where HR acts as the “agent” and the employee moves about inside the organization based as much on their own needs and desires as the organization. (If, that is, they are lucky enough to work in an organization that “gets it”.)

b9fhxmdwI closed that 2004 post with the thought, “This obviously raises some interesting questions for organizations….

Some interesting questions that Stephen DeWitt is working on answering. Here’s a description of what DeWitt is doing as CEO of Work Market, from the article/interview A Total Rethink of How Work Should Work:

In short, Work Market hopes to instrument a wholesale rethinking of how work gets done in our society — from a world of traditional corporate employment to a world where every skilled worker can act as an enterprise of one.

Or, to look at it another way, where an organization consists primarily of management and the workforce is “on demand”. Where the focus is not on building, growing, and sustaining a large organization but on doing the work, creating value, getting shit done. Where each member of the team can contribute their expertise – whether it be financial, management, technical – and all benefit from the arrangement. On their own terms.

More flash team than gig economy, where the labor is not a commodity but where each participant competes based on skills, past projects, reputation, etc etc. All those things that in the past would have led to promotions and raises and bonuses will now lead to more work, higher rates, and more choice in the work you accept.

Obviously, there is much more to it or it would already be the norm. There are examples of where it is working and organizations who are using it, but it will be many years before it is more widespread. And, of course, the transition will not come without pain, without costs, without some collateral damage to the workforce and organizations who are not able, or interested, in making the change.

Are you ready to be an “enterprise of one”?

Arkansas marble and the Boone County Caravan Spring

Arkansas marble and the Boone County Caravan Spring

In the aftermath (afterglow?) of the recent US elections I’ve been giving some thought to discussions about rural America that have been bouncing around. I drove through quite a bit of this ruralness on my way to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch this past weekend for a climbing trip with friends. Don’t worry, I didn’t think too much about all this while we climbing. But we did have some good conversation around the campfire.

On my drive home from the Ranch yesterday I decided to stop at a couple of historical markers along Highway 7. I’ve driven this road several times, and have seen the signs for the markers, but had never stopped before. Here’s what I found.

Arkansas Marble

arkmarbleThe first marker at which I stopped was a commemoration for the Arkansas marble used in the Washington Monument.

This marker commemorates the Arkansas marble in Washington’s Monument, taken by Beller and Harp bros. from this hill in 1836. This marker erected in 1954 by Newton Co. History Society.   W.F. Lackey Pres, Manda Hickman Sec.

A quick Google search (Arkansas marble Washington Monument) returned some great sites and information about the stone, the Washington Monument, and even the roadside marker itself.

Boone County Caravan Spring

boonecocaravan

The other marker at which I stopped on my journey was a commemoration of a much less successful journey from the mid 19th century.

Near this spring, in September 1857, gathered a caravan of 150 men, women and children, who here began the ill-fated journey to California. The entire party, with the exception of seventeen small children, was massacred at Mountain Meadows, Utah, by a body of Mormons disguised as Indians.

A(nother) quick Google search (Boone County Caravan Spring) pulled back this treasure trove of Mountain Meadows Massacre Historical Accounts, among other great resources.

The point

I came across these two markers, commemorating the actions of people just a couple of miles, and a couple of years, apart in what many people would call “the middle of nowhere”.  No real point here except a reminder that there is a lot of history all around us in this big wide country of ours. Not all of it makes it into the history books, but it is all a part of how we got to where we are, and where we are going.

 

 

Wirearchy and the opposite of patriarchy

I do think that women could make politics irrelevant; by a kind of spontaneous cooperative action the like of which we have never seen; which is so far from people’s ideas of state structure or viable social structure that it seems to them like total anarchy — when what it really is, is very subtle forms of interrelation that do not follow some heirarchal pattern which is fundamentally patriarchal. The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity, yet I think it’s women who are going to have to break this spiral of power and find the trick of cooperation.

Germaine Greer

I first heard this quote when Sinéad O’Connor used it as the first track, an intro of sorts, to her 1994 album Universal Mother. (Maybe my favorite album of hers, we saw her at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park on the tour, great show.) The quote has stuck with me over the years and pops its head up at various times. Like now.

In one of those stereotypical “I wasn’t thinking of anything and it just popped into my head” moments, the phrase “the opposite to patriarchy is … fraternity” and Jon Husband‘s  concept of wirearchy came together and presented themselves to my conscious mind. Obviously the full quote refers to political, not business, organization and is from “one of the major voices of the second-wave feminist movement in the latter half of the 20th century” about the role of women in the transformation of politics, and this reference to fraternity has nothing directly to do with business or the organization of work.

But I can’t help thinking there is something here to explore.