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Comparative Advantage

This morning I finished Planet Money’s Episode 963: 13,000 Economists. 1 Question.. These fine folks make one of my favorite podcasts - each week is a different look at something weird from a weird perspective. It sounds like it’s very market/economy focused, but it’s really focused on everything economics. In the past decades economics has branched out to look at nearly every field of human endeavor with a mathematical eye. It’s not always very successful, but the economist perspective does make me look at things differently.…

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Pitching Success - CO-STAR

Idaho National Labs has a program right now called “CO-STAR”. Their researchers do great work, but as with any research group they are constantly advocating for funding, and researchers are constantly advocating among themselves for time. Everybody spends time advocating for something. “Pitching” something. You want your boss to consider a smarter way of working, one that you’ve come up with? You pitch it to her. You want someone to use an open-source project you’ve created?…

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Meet Differently

A recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast covered meetings. Two or more people gathering to accomplish the business of business, as they defined it. It gave me some things I hope I remember the next time I’m organizing a recurring staff meeting… Organize an agenda around questions-to-answer Hold smaller meetings Keep track and time Meetings need agendas, just about every book I’ve read which touches on meetings agrees on this point.…

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Consider How Well-Defined a Problem is When Building Teams

To improve innovation on a team, consider building a team differently based on the problem you’re facing. There are many ways of categorizing a problem your team must solve, but one is along the axis of well-definedness. Well-defined problems – here, you know what you’re trying to solve, you know what end-state your audience will find acceptable, maybe you’ve seen similar problems solved elsewhere or you even know some current acceptable solutions.…

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Build on My Strengths and on My Peoples’ Strengths

Everybody has a strength. Probably more than one. We are better-employed when we use our strengths. When possible, improving your weaknesses can make you a more effective individual… But we already possess our strengths and can put them to work now. Build on My Strengths and on My Peoples’ Strengths Know your peoples’ strengths and put those strengths to work. Build teams with a diversity of strengths.…

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Mastermind Meetings

When I was flight commander, supervising a group of fellow nerds with nerd jobs, I spent almost all of my time on the administrative requirements. They needed me to do the boss stuff - that was my official position! I really wanted to do the nerd stuff though. It’s more fun, it’s my strength, and I’ve got more experience with it… I’ll admit that as the boss I had input into many nerdy problems, and having that was rewarding.…

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Perceptions Sometimes Count and Facts May Not

“Perception is reality” I’ve heard this quote numerous times. The falsehood evident in those words should be obvious, but these days perhaps it is not. Reality is reality, perception is perception. Often reality and perception overlap heavily - but we don’t notice those times when our perceptions are correct. Our brains think that’s the default. There’s also almost always some amount of perception that doesn’t overlap reality - when our brain is jumping to conclusions and we are misled.…

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Know Your Why

I’m personally driven by a few ideas… Things I’m pretty passionate about. Improving cyber security in the US though education is a major one. When I remember my goals they my action. Why do I want to volunteer to teach at a college? Why did I spend time building K-12 python, cyber security, and boolean logic short courses? Why do I look for opportunities to have my knowledgeable folks teach the rest of my folks?…

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Personality Inprocessing

One of the things every leadership course includes is some discussion of personality types. Usually everyone has to take or retake a personality test for the Myers-Briggs system. You usually go around the room at some point and talk about, or show by example, the effects of each piece of the type. Then, at some point, they recommend building teams with a diversity of personality. But who actually ends up doing that?…

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Broken Windows

The broken windows theory of policing suggests that when police target small crimes like “vandalism, public drinking, and fare evasion," and reduce visible signs of “crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder” they reduce the likelihood of further and worse crime. This can certainly be taken too far, as in “stop-and-frisk” policies, if those are examples of broken windows policing, as some suggest. When applied to a team you’re leading, broken windows policing looks like: making sure uniforms are still sharp and worn properly, office common spaces are kept tidy, individuals are shown respect in each interaction, promises are kept, report and presentation standards are being met, and people generally meet the requirements and standards of each of their duties.…

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