All posts by Richard

Book Notes : Who Are You, Really?

Who Are You, Really?: The Surprising Puzzle of Personality by Brian Little
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Biogenic : This is the biological you, and can be split into The Five Personality Traits

  1. Open to Experiences (vs. Closed) – being attracted to new ventures and exploring new things.  Such people succeed in coming up with novel solutions.
  2. Conscientious (vs. Casual) – being laser focused, this helps achieve more academic pursuits and conventional problem solving.
  3. Extraverted (vs. Introverted) – being attracted to potential rewards in their environment choosing quantity of experiences (as opposed to introverts who look for quality).
  4. Agreeable (vs. Disagreeable) – smooth other conflict and build alliances.  They are highly trusting and might be seen as being naive.  They have high levels of empathy.  Disagreeable people are cynical and distrusting of others.
  5. Neurotic (vs. Stable) – being attuned to punishment and which leads to anxiety, depression and vulnerability.  Such people are the canaries in the coal mine.

Sociogenic : This is the environment in which you are and are your historical experiences, this is how you engage with the world.

Idiogenic : All people are essentially scientists creating experiments and testing hypothesises about the world and evaluating their results.  This is the personal way that we view the world that is constantly in flux.

The Biogenic, Sociogenic and Idiogenic aka nature, nurture and the way you view the world work together and evolve as you experience every day.

The book goes on to detail how can you build and develop the traits that you might want with the key to these being the projects which you undertake. Some of these projects will be you working by yourself (e.g. keeping the lawn tidy) or it could be projects which you do with one or more other people (e.g. looking after a pet).

Book Notes : The Five Dysfunctions of a team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The book presents a story which dives into a team and the problems with them working together towards a common goal.

5 dysfunctions of a team

Dysfunction 1 : Absence of Trust
When you have a group of people who feel that they have to be great to be in their role it is important that people can be open and honest, without this people hide mistakes and work for their own personal aims.

As a leader it is important to lead by example for people to be open and to share without fear of negative criticism or reprisal.

Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict
Where there is no trust there is no ability to have tough discussions and for people to actively come to the best decision for the organisation.

If you present an idea which you know is bad and no one challenges it then you know that people are not engaged or they fear an active discussion on topics.

Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment
Once there has been an active discussion and an outcome agreed then people need to commit to it and run with it. If this is not the case then people go against the decision intentionally and this can cause conflict elsewhere in the organisation as a result e.g. between teams from different departments.

There needs to be closure on issues. To focus the mind deadlines can be set and a formal review scheduled to reevaluate the decision.

Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Team Accountability
If there is a lack of commitment then there is a lack of holding people to the decision. This can result in poor performance and the leader becoming the sole source of discipline since no other people will hold people against the agreed decision. When accountability is in place then things are clear. can be reviewed and helps teams remain healthy.

Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Team Objectives
Care needs to be taken that it is not every person for themselves e.g. personal recognition etc. The team needs collective goals and team members need to be constantly striving for the achievement of the team. When the team is working well then team members will be glad to feel part of it and will be focused on delivering value.

Book Notes : Radical Candor

Radical Candor : How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book covers a number of topics, of which the one about radical candor is just one, a second is performance management for Rock and Super stars, giving and encouraging feedback, pushing people personally, how to be the boss and getting things done as a team.

Radical Candor

Radical Candor is the mixture of caring personally and challenging directly.

Performance management

At any point people can be in two gears – “Rock Star” and “Super Star”, an effective team needs a mix of these people the people who are solid, getting things done and are dependable as well as those pushing ambitious, agents for change and promotion.

For the Super stars (top right) keep them challenged and be prepared to replace them when they move on. The aim for Super stars is not to become a manager – the development path for them needs to be appropriate for their needs and desires.  Promotions need to be fair and there needs to be an aversion of promotion and status obsession.

Since a team needs both Rock and Super stars it is important to look at how you reward Super stars compared to Rock stars as most talent mapping or pay review processes favor the super stars not the rock stars who the team actually depends on. The rock stars (bottom right) deserve recognition and respect as much as the super stars. The aim should not be promotion as this might not be what the rock stars actually want but there could be other things or opportunities you could give people such as being a guru or teaching, these might not be what they want to first find out.

For people stuck in the middle or top left they need help moving them to the right and if this is not working then likely they will need to leave the company.

For people Super stars in the top left there might be reasons they are under performing such as wrong role, taking on too much too fast or a poor fit. For these people a change of role might be needed.

For under-performing rock stars and super stars who are in the best role then they need to find a new company. Firing people is never an easy thing and managers tend to do it too late because they think it will get better, somebody is better than nobody, better to transfer them to another team or they are worried that firing them will be worse for moral. In reality these are never good reasons and they should be helped and if that does not work they should leave the company to find a role that is more suited to them.  Don’t unilaterally decide to fire someone, consult with others to get a fuller picture but don’t wait too long to do it – genuinely care and follow up after they have left.

Ways to give praise and criticism

  • Ask for feedback and push past the “Everything is fine” such as “Is there anything I should start or stop doing which would make it easier for you to work with me?”
  • Reward criticism
  • Feedback box
  • Be humble
  • Be helpful
  • Give feedback immediately in just 2-3 min between meetings
  • Feedback in private in person
  • Praise in public
  • Don’t personalise
  • If you have to do a performance review there should be no surprises
  • Put at least as much effort into looking forward as into looking back
  • Get people to talk directly
  • Encourage story sharing
  • Skip level meetings (speaking with the people two levels below)
    • Feedback should not be attributed to who gave the feedback
    • Take notes and project them in the meeting for everyone to review as you go
    • Start with things like “What is your boss doing well?”  “What could a boss do better?”
    • Prioritise the list so the recipient knows what is most important
    • Tell people you are sharing notes right after the meeting, this gives a last minutes push to get things finished
    • Ensure the recipient notifies people of what areas they will work on

To push people and to avoid boredom

Complete three meetings with each person

  1. Their life story – hear about their history and in particular any changes whey made, e.g. took up football to more team activities, this gives insight into the individuals values.
  2. Their dreams – what do they dream about at the peak of their career.  From this list the skills required to be able to achieve the dreams.  If there is a discrepancy between their dreams and their values find out why, e.g. hard working value and a retire early dream could be because they have children who will need more care.
  3. Eighteen month plan – “What do you need to learn to move towards your dream? How would you prioritise what you need to learn? How can we evolve your role so you can learn these?”

Being a boss

Sometimes you should lead and sometimes you should manage, depending on what exactly needs to be done – as such the book uses the term boss as a way to cover both.  The extremes of this are absentee management and micro management.

Absentee manager Partnership Micro manager
Hands-off, ear-off, mouth-off Hands-on, ear-on, mouth-off Hands-on, ear-off, mouth-on
Lacks curiosity. Doesn’t want to know. Displays curiosity. Recognises when they need to know. Lacks curiosity. Pretends to know all.
Doesn’t listen. Says nothing. Listens. Asks why? Doesn’t listen. Tells how.
Is afraid of any details. Asks about relevant details. Gets lost in the details.
Had no idea what’s going on. Is informed because hands-on. Asks for make-work presentations, reports and updates.
Sets no goals. Leads collaborative goal-setting. Sets goals arbitrarily.
Remains unaware of problems. Listens to problems. Brainstorms solutions. Tells people how to solve problems without fully understanding them.
Causes collateral damage by tripping on grenades unaware. Removes obstacles and defuses explosive situations. Tells people how to remove obstacles/defuse situations, but watches from a safe distance.
Is ignorant of both the questions and the answers. Shares what they know; asks questions when they don’t. Pretends to know when they don’t.
Is unaware of context. Shares relevant context. Hoards information.

Get stuff done together

There are a couple of take aways which I feel are really useful from this book. The more structured approach to understand peoples motivation, the idea short feedback – I think the idea of “micro feedback” is one which I will pick up as well as the sequence

Listen, challenge, commit

Book Notes : Powerful

Powerful : Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The greatest motivation is contribution to success
  • The greatest team achievements are driven by all team members understanding the ultimate goal and being free to creatively problem-solve in order to get there.
  • The strongest motivator is having great team members to work with, people who trust one another to do great work and to challenge one another.
  • The most important job of management is to ensure that all team members are such high performers who do great work and challenge one another.
  • You should operate with the leanest possible set of policies, procedures, rule and approvals because most of these top-down mandates hamper speed and agility.
  • Discover how lean you can be by steadily experimenting.  If it turns out a policy or procedure was needed, reinstate it.  Constantly seek to refine your culture as you constantly work to improve your product and service.
Every single employee should understand the business
  • Employees at all levels want and need to understand not only the particular work they are assigned and their team’s mission, but also the larger story of the way the business works, the challenges the company faces, and the competitive landscape.
  • Truly understanding how the business works is the most valuable learning, more productive and appealing than “employee development” training.  Its the rocket fuel of high performance and lifelong learning.
  • Communication between management and employees should genuinely flow both ways.  The more leaders encourage questions and suggestions and make themselves accessible for give-and-take, the more employees at all levels will offer ideas and insight that will amaze you.
  • If someone working for you seems clueless, chances are they have no been told information they need to know.  Make sure you haven’t failed to give it to them.
  • If you don’t tell your people about how the business is doing and the problems being confronted – good, bad and ugly – then they will get that information somewhere else, and it will often be misinformation.
  • The job of communicating is never done.  It’s not an annual or quarterly or even monthly or weekly function.  A steady stream of communication is the lifeblood of competitive advantage.
Humans hate being lied to and being spun
  • People can handle being told the truth, about both he bussiness and their performance.  The truth is not only what they need but also what they intensely want.
  • Telling the truth about perceived problems, in a timely fashion and face to face, is the single most effective way to solve problems.
  • Practicing radical honesty diffuses tensions and discourages backstabbing; it builds understanding and respect.
  • Radical honesty also leads to the sharing of opposing views, which are so often withhelf and which can lead to vital insight.
  • Failing to tell people the truth about problems is their performance leads to an undue burden being soldered by manager and other team members.
  • The style of delivery is important; leaders should practice giving critical feedback so that it is specific and constructive and comes across as well intentioned.
  • Consider setting up a system for colleagues to offer one another critiques.  We created a successful one at Netflix and instituted an annual feedback day for the whole company to share comments with anyone they had thoughts for.
  • Model openly admitting when you are wrong.  n addition, talk about what went into your decisions and where you went wrong.  That encourages employees to share ideas and opposing views with you even if they directly contradict your position.
Debate vigorously
  • Intense, open debate over business decisions is thrilling for teams, and they will respond to the opportunity to engage in it by offering the very best of their analytical powers.
  • Set terms of debate explicitly.  People should formulate strong views and be prepared to back them up, and their arguments should be based primarily on facts, not conjecture.
  • Instruct people to ask one another for explanations of their views and of the problems being debated, rather than making assumptions about these things.
  • Be selfless in debating.  That means being genuinely prepared to lose your case and openly admitting when you have.
  • Actually orchestrate debates.  You can have people formulate present cases, maybe even have them get up on stage.  Try having people argue the opposite side, poking holes in their own position.  Formal debates, for which people prepare often lead to breakthrough realisations.
  • Beware of data masquerading as fact; data is only as good as the conclusions it allows you to draw from it.  People will be drawn to data that supports their biases.  Hold your data up to rigorous scientific standards.
  • Debates among smaller groups are often best because everyone feels freer to contribute – and it’s more noticeable if they don’t.  Smaller groups also aren’t as prone to groupthink as large groups are.
Build your company now for what you want it to be then
  • To stay agile and move at the speed of change, hire the people you need for the future now.
  • On a regular basis, take the time to envision what your business must look like six months from now in order to be high-performing.  Make a movie of it in your head, imagining how people are working and the tools and skills they have.  Then start immediately making the changes necessary to create that future.
  • More people will not necessarily do more work or better work; it’s often better to have fewer people with more skills who are all high performers.
  • Successful sports teams are the best model for managers; they are constantly scouting for new talent and culling their current roster.  You’re building a team, not raising a family.
  • Some members of your team may simply not be able to grow into high performers for the future your’re heading to.  It is not the job of the business to invest in developing them; the job is to develop the product and market.
  • Develop and promote from within when that’s the best option for performance; when its better to hire from outside, be proactive in doing so.
  • The ideal is for people to take charge of developing themselves; this drives optimal growth for both individuals and companies.
Someone really smart in every job
  • Hiring great performers is a hiring manager’s most important job.  Hiring managers should actively develop their own pipelines of talent and take the lead in all aspects of the hiring process.  They are the lead recruiters.
  • The team and companies most successful in staying ahead of the curve manage to do so because they proactively replenish their talent pool.
  • Retention is not a good measure of team-building success; having a great person in every single position on the team is a better measure.
  • Sometimes it’s important to let even people who have done a great job go in order to make space for high performers in new functions or with different skills.
  • Bonuses, stop options, high salaries, and even a clear path to promotion are not the strongest draw for high performers.  The opportunity to work with teams of other high performers whom they’ll learn from and find it exhilarating to work with is by far the most powerful lure.
  • Making a great hire is not about bringing in an “A Player”; its about finding a great match for your needs.  Someone who is a high performer for one team may not be for another team.
  • Get beyond the resume.  Be really creative about where you look for talent.  Dig further that a list of experiences.  Consider wide-ranging experiences and focus on people’s fundamental problem-solving abilities.
  • Make the interviewing experience extremely impressive all the way through.  You want every single person you interview to want to join the company at the end of the process.
  • HR must be businesspeople who truly understand the way your business works, even if that’s quite technical.  They should be creative, proactive partners in the hiring process.  Investing time in explaining to them the details of the talents you need will pay remarkable dividends.
Pay people what they are worth to you
  • The skills and talents for any given job will not match a template job description, and salaries should not be predetermined according to templates.
  • Information from salary surveys is always behind current market conditions; do not rely on them in making salary offers.
  • Consider not only what you can afford given your current business but also what you will be able to afford given the additional revenue a new hire might enable you to bring in.
  • Rather than paying at some percentile of top of market, consider paying top of market, if not for all roles, then those that are most important to your growth.
  • Signing bonuses can lead to the impression of a salary decrease in the year after the person joins; paying the salary you need in order to bring in a top performer is the better option.
  • Being transparent with staff about compensation encourages better judgement about salaries and undercuts biases, as well as offering the occasion for more honest dialogue about the contributions of various roles to the company’s performance.
The art of good good-byes
  • Employees need to be able to see whether their talents and passions are a good match for the future you are heading to, in order to determine whether they may be a better fit at another firm.
  • People should hear frequently about how well they’re performing.  Even if doing away with the annual performance process is not feasible for you, institute much more frequent meetings to discuss performance.
  • If doing away with the annual review process is an option for you, try it!  The process is a big waste of time and can become a stand-in for real-time information about performance.
  • Either make performance improvement plan genuinely efforts to help people improve performance or get rid of them.
  • The chances you’ll get sued by an employee who is let go are vanishly slim, especially if you have been responsible and regularly sharing with that person the problems you perceive with their performance

Book Notes : Breaking the Fear Barrier

Breaking the Fear Barrier : How fear destroys companies from the inside out and what to do about it by Tom Rieger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book presents the Pyramid of Bureaucracy.

At its lowest level is Parochialism. This is a tendency to force others to view the world from only one perspective or through a narrow filter, when local needs and goals are viewed as more important than broader objectives and outcomes. The result is functional silos, protective policies and rules, defining success for what is best for the team and not the wider organisation. Policies and rules are needed in organisations, they only become bad when they protect the team more than they help the organisation. Rules which are absolute promote parochialism, helpful rules promote an organisations ability to serve customers or achieve strategic goals.

To overcome parochialism a company needs to evaluate every rule to ensure it has a clear benefit that it has to the customers, create a better work place, improve financial success, avoid risk or liability, or prevent catastrophe.  Someone must own the rule so that it can be challenged or changed.  A rule must be evaluated for unintended consequences.

In the middle there is Territotialism. Where as parochialism was about protecting the team from the outside, territotialism is about controlling what is going on within the team. The motivation for this is to reduce waste but results in the following happening to team members:

  • the removal of freedoms e.g. enforcing a script when speaking to customers
  • taking away extra time – this can remove the ability to work with other teams and build links
  • eliminate the opportunity to gain knowledge or skills – in times of scarcity this is the first thing usually to be cut
  • restrict information flow – giving managers more control to micro manage
  • withholding support – because the manager does not want to get blamed for potential waste but then there is no chance for new learning

In territotialism it is not just people who are restricted but everything.

To overcome territotialism employees need to be trusted and given freedom to work.  They need to be aligned with the mission of the company and a reasonable set of ground rules.  As an accompaniment to freedom the employees need time to exercise this, the ability to grow and develop as well access to information and resources so they can fully participate and innovate with support from management.

The peak is Empire Building, this is where a team expand their span of control when it is not in the best interests for the company.  This shows as teams competing for shared resources such as IT or recruitment, teams speak on the behalf of other teams to prioritise their work and in the worst case results in duplication of functions e.g. a team forming its own IT department rather than using the standard one which they can not fully control.  These come from trying to reduce costs but the result is in increased costs instead.

Empires try to gain control in four areas information. budget and resource, decision rights and supervisory rights.  When deciding where something should reside these are the questions to answer:

  • impact on financial performance
  • improvement on the workplace
  • strength of customer relationships
  • limiting liability
  • avail catastrophic failure

Beware of courage killers: inconsistency, the blame game, hoarding information, public floggings and rewarding sub-service over service.

Book Notes : Why Motivating People Does’t Work and What Does

Why Motivating People Does’t Work and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing and Engaging by Susan Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the book it states that everyone is motivated all of the time, as such it is not possible and there is no need to motivate people. The challenge is more to get people excited to work on the things which are important for the company or organisation. It presents the motivation spectrum which shows a desire for high quality self-regulation and physiological needs.

The three physiological needs : Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence.

Autonomy : our human need to perceive we have choices. It is our need to feel that what we are doing is of our own power. It is our perception that we are the source of our actions.

Relatedness : our need to care about and be cared about by others. It is our need to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives. It is our need to feel that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves.

Competence : our need to feel effective at meeting everyday challenges and opportunities. It is demonstrating skill over time. It is feeling a sense of growth and flourishing.

The three self-regulation needs : Mindfully managing feelings & thoughts, Values and Purpose for immediate and sustained positive effort.

Mindfulness : noticing – being aware and attuned to what is happening in the present moment without judgment or an automatic reaction. It is a state of being but is also a skill that requires development through practice and patience.

Values : premeditated, cognitive standards if what a person considers good or bad, worse, better or best. Values are enduring beliefs a person has chosen to accept as guidelines for how (s)he works and lives his life.

Purpose : a deep and meaningful reason for doing something. Purpose is acting with a noble intention – when your actions are infused with social significance.

To be able to support a shift in motivation there needs to be an improvement in physiological (ARC) and self-regulation needs (MVP). It is very important not to problem solve but to really deeply understand where someone is currently and to help them, as an individual, work towards a shift. You can use techniques such as five whys to dig into where someone is currently. Imposing your values or telling people what to do will not improve the individuals motivation.

Book Notes : Scrum Mastery

Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership by Geoff Watts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are some really interesting stories in this book but each chapter starts with a great two line summary which really do sum up a huge amount.

  • A good ScrumMaster grasps the responsibilities of the role. A great ScrumMaster grasps the skills and mindset of the role.
  • A good ScrumMaster will be indispensable to a team. A great ScrumMaster will become both dispensable and wanted.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps a Scrum team survive in an organisation’s culture. A great ScrumMaster helps change the culture so Scrum teams can thrive.
  • A good ScrumMaster will hold team members to account if needed. A great ScrumMaster will hold the team to account for not holding their teammates to account.
  • A good ScrumMaster is wary of influencing the team. A great ScrumMaster can act normally and know the team will still make their own decisions.
  • A good ScrumMaster will ensure the team have access to a product owner. A great ScrumMaster will ensure the team have access to the product owner.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps the team develop and grow. A great ScrumMaster helps the team develop their own growth pathway.
  • A good ScrumMaster removes disruptive influences from the daily scrum so it is used for the team’s benefit. A great ScrumMaster will create an environment where others (particularly the product owner) can attend and not affect the behaviour of the team.
  • A good ScrumMaster will help a team change their sprint length to find their optimum. A great ScrumMaster has faith in self-organisation and knows the value of rhythm.
  • A good ScrumMaster will say what needs to be Said. A great ScrumMaster knows the power of silence.
  • A good ScrumMaster creates an environment where raising impediments can occur.
  • A great ScrumMaster creates an environment where creativity can occur.
  • A good ScrumMaster ensures team members share their status efficiently with one another in the daily scrum. A great ScrumMaster ensures the daily scrum is an energising event that teams look forward to.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps the team identify improvements. A great ScrumMaster inspires the team to be adaptive.
  • A good ScrumMaster holds a balanced retrospective. A great ScrumMaster holds a focused retrospective.
  • A good ScrumMaster encourages teams to share skills. A great ScrumMaster encourages teams to share responsibilities.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps a team meet their definition of done at the end of the sprint. A great ScrumMaster helps a team extend their definition of done.
  • A good ScrumMaster facilitates the sprint review to look back and review the product built in the previous sprint. a great ScrumMaster facilitates the sprint review to look forward and shape the product in future sprints.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps ensure the high-value product backlog items are selected in a sprint planning. A great ScrumMaster helps raft an inspiring, engaging and synergistic sprint goal.
  • A good ScrumMaster updates the sprint burn-down to free the team from overhead. A great ScrumMaster helps the team find a fun way to manage themselves visually.
  • A good ScrumMaster notices areas for improvement in the team. A great ScrumMaster recognises and highlights strengths for the team to build on.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps every member of the team grow. A great ScrumMaster fosters the team’s growth.
  • A good ScrumMaster facilitates cooperation between people. A great ScrumMaster facilitates collaboration.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps teams use “yes, but” effectively. A great ScrumMaster helps teams find more space for “yes and”.
  • A good ScrumMaster will push for permission to remove impediments to team productivity. A great ScrumMaster will be prepared to ask for forgiveness.
  • A good ScrumMaster protects the team from distractions. A great ScrumMaster finds the root cause of those distractions and eliminates them.
  • A good ScrumMaster will help maintain team harmony. A great ScrumMaster will guide a team through disharmony to reach a new level of teamwork.
  • A good ScrumMaster will use Scrum to help bring out the best in everyone. A great ScrumMaster will use Scrum to create a “new best” for everyone.
  • A good ScrumMaster asks to understand. A great ScrumMaster asks so the team can understand.
  • A good ScrumMaster will listen carefully to what is said. A great ScrumMaster will also listen carefully to what is not said.
  • A good ScrumMaster will guide the team through the inevitable stages of development. A great ScrumMaster holds the mirror up to the team and the wider organisation so they can reflect and grow.
  • A good ScrumMaster coaches the team to success. A great ScrumMaster also allows room for failure.
  • A good ScrumMaster helps the team find ways to optimise their process. A great ScrumMaster guides the team past the need for process (and a ScrumMaster).

Book Notes : This is Lean

This Is Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox by Niklas Modig & Par Ahlstrom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book starts by explaining the difference between Resource Efficiency and Flow Efficiency. The former having the aim to maximise the use of expensive resources, such as MRI scanners, doctors etc. The latter is focused on maximising the flow of a unit of work though a system, e.g. the speed of getting a patient from initially requiring a diagnosis through to diagnosis.

There are three laws at play:

  • Little’s law is that the throughput time is equal to the flow units in process x the cycle time. e.g. it takes 1 minute to go through a security scanner and the queue is 9 people long then the throughput time is 9 minutes.
  • The law of bottlenecks. There are always bottlenecks in system with heterogeneous processes. They can be identified as there will be a queue of people, material or data before it. The stages after a bottleneck will work slower than they could because of a limited amount of work to do.
  • The law of the effect of variation on processes. This could be because the resources don’t work the same, e.g. different approaches to doing a task. It could be because the flow units/subjects are different e.g. the exact requirements you have when you go to a barbers might be different to the person before or afters. External events, e.g. the sudden arrival of a lot of customers all at the same time.

The efficiency paradox. If there are long lead times then this results in secondary needs e.g. if you have to hold more inventory then there are the costs tied up in the bussiness, the storage space required, the reduced flexibility etc. If this were your doctor referring you to a specialist then if you have not heard about your appointment after some time you are likely to call them up and ask about it which takes up more of their time without adding value to anyone compared to if you had been given your appointment time right away. If there are many restarts then it takes time for the next person to understand more about what has been done which takes more time. The paradox is that we think that by being busy that we are being efficient whereas as significant amount of time is actually take up by secondary tasks which would not have existed had we focused on getting the original task completed much sooner.

So with the two efficiencies the ideal position would be great flow efficiency and great resource efficiency, however – in reality – this is not possible because of the variation which we discussed earlier – this imposes a limit on the maximum possible efficiencies, the efficiency frontier.

So what is Lean? Simply put it is the continued desire to reach the start of peak resource and flow efficiency.

This is based on two principles, just-in-time and about having visibility of everything that is going on and also where things are going with a strong customer focus. You then put in place methods to support the principles which are then actioned by tools and activities.

The ultimate aim of lean is to better than you were yesterday.

Book Notes : The Chimp Paradox

The Chimp Paradox : The Mind Management program for Confidence, Success and Happiness by Steve Peters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book looks inside our brains and answers a lot of the questions when you wonder why I feel stressed or why I did not say what I want to by splitting our brain into three parts, a Human part, Chimp part and a Computer one. He then explains how these don’t always work harmoniously together and what we can do to improve things.

The Psychological Mind

  • The Psychological Mind is made up of three separate brains: Human, Chimp and Computer
  • You are the human
  • Your chimp is an emotional thinking machine
  • Your computer is a storage area and automatic functioning machine.
  • Any one of these can take complete control but they usually work together

Understanding yourself and your chimp

  • You, the Human, have a personality, agenda and Humanity Centre. You think logically and work with facts and truths.
  • Your Chimp has a personality, agenda and Jungle Centre. It thinks emotionally and uses impressions and feelings.
  • The Chimp is an emotional machine that will hijack you, if you allow it to. It is not good or bad: it is a chimp. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. This is The Chimp Paradox.

Managing your chimp

  • “Do I want…?” is the question to ask in order to recognise if your Chimp is hijacking you. If the answer is “no” then you are being hijacked.
  • You are always responsible for your Chimp.
  • The Chimp is five times stronger than you are.
  • Nurture your Chimp before you try to manage it.
  • Manage your Chimp, don’t try to control it.
  • There are three common ways to manage your Chimp:
    • Exercise – to let it out and say what it wants in a safe space
    • Boxing the Chimp – using facts, truths and logic to explain to the Chimp why it is wrong
    • Bananas – to distract the Chimp from the problem or reward the Chimp for acting appropriately

How to understand the Computer in your mind

  • The Computer has two principal functions:  running automatic programs and acting as a reference source for the Human and Chimp
  • The Computer can be thought of as being 20 times faster to act than the Human and 4 times faster than the Chimp.
  • Autopilots are constructive and helpful automatic behaviors and beliefs.
  • Gremlins are destructive and unhelpful automatic behaviors and beliefs that are removable
  • Goblins are destructive and unhelpful automatic behaviors and beliefs that are firmly stuck
  • The Stone of Life contains your Truths of Life, Values and Life Force.
  • The Mindset you hold is based on your perception of how things are and therefore influence your approach to life.

How to manage your Computer

  • It is vital to get the Computer into correct working order.
  • You can search out and replace Gremlins with Autopilots.
  • The Stone of Life is the most powerful part of your Mind.
  • The Stone of Life is something that you can work on.
  • Reinforcing the Stone of Life by making it visible every day is a major settling influence on you.
  • You can choose the right Mindset to approach life.

How your mind works and influences your personality

  • The Chimp always interprets first before the Human.
  • The Chimp only hands over to the Human if there is no danger or perceived threat.
  • The Human can intervene to stop the Chimp reacting by using facts and truths.
  • The Computer can be programmed to settle the Chimp down before it acts.
  • Personality is a mixture of Human, Chimp and Computer
  • Nature and nurture both influence your personality.
  • Your Mindset affects the way that you come across.
  • You can work on the Human, Chimp and Computer to adjust your personality.
  • You are the person that you want to be but you are being hijacked by your Chimp into being someone else.

How to understand and relate to other people

  • Getting the best out of people depends on how you approach them and what you understand of them.
  • Having preconceived ideas about people or expectations of them may prejudice how you relate to them.
  • The best relationships are the ones where you accept the person as they are and work with this.
  • Walk away from people whose behaviors or beliefs you can not accept.
  • Invest a lot in those whom you care about.
  • The one in five rule means that you need to accept that some people you will never please and they will never like you and it may have nothing to do with you.

How to choose the right support network

  • Establishing your troop is critical to reassure your Chimp.
  • Recognising the different ways that the Human and Chimp choose the troop.
    • Chimp – looking for safety so want to be with a strong leader with influence, wealth, similarity (e.g. where they were raised) – shared experiences or background.  These are based on feelings and can result in us excluding useful people or including destructive people.
    • Human – looking for like minded, friendship, companionship, values, reliability and predictability people.
  • Opinions from outside your troop are not important.
  • Clarifying the roles of those in your troop helps it to function well.
  • The troop needs time spent on it to make it function.

How to communicate effectively

  • Effective communication is critical to effective functioning
  • There are techniques that you can develop to improve your communication but it is a skill to use them.
  • The skill of communication is no different to any other skill and takes time and effort to develop and maintain.
  • The Square of Communication has the right person in the middle with the four corners being the right time, place, agenda and way.
  • The way in which you package a message is critical to its success in being received.

How to establish the right environment

  • The Chimp lives in a jungle and needs looking after.
  • The Human lives in a society and needs looking after.
  • The Computer makes sense of those two worlds and comes up with the real world.
  • The real world is a fluctuating existence between two parallel worlds that change frequently.
  • Living in the real world is learning how to survive and be happy.

How to deal with immediate stress

  • Have realistic expectations and remind yourself of the obvious: life is not fair; stress will happen; things will go wrong.
  • “Change” represents a behavior change and means that you will change your automatic response to stress from Chimp and Gremlins to Human and Autopilots.
  • Being proactive means looking ahead and avoiding obvious stress when you can.
  • “AMP” represents Accept and Move on with a Plan and helps you to get over stressful situations.
  • When stress appears, actively look for solutions to remove it.
  • Nearly all situations are only emotionally stressful if you allow them to be.

How to deal with long-standing stress

  • Check regularly for signs of chronic stress.
  • Deal with chronic stress and do not allow yourself to accept it as normal.
  • Recognise your emotional limit for dealing with things and don’t exceed it.
  • Develop ways of dealing with stress.
  • Don’t be caught in life by holding onto a worthless stone.

How to look after your health

  • The simple message is to look after your body and mind in a serious way if you want to get the best out of yourself.
  • Work on maintaining your physical and mental health.
  • Make sure that you have enough recuperation: relaxing, resting and sleeping.
  • If you are ill, take responsibility to seek out help to get yourself better.

The foundations of success

  • Define what you mean by success and stick to it.
  • Wear the crown when it is appropriate.
  • Respect the crown when it is on somebody else’s head.
  • Commitment is the biggest part of the CORE principle.
  • Take ownership and responsibility for your life.
  • Aim for personal excellence.
  • Grow lots of carrots and get rid of the sticks.

How to plan for success

  • There is a difference between a dream and a goal.
  • To be successful you will need planning and structure.
  • Oiling the wheels will greatly improve the chances of success.
  • Regular audits will keep you on track.
  • Dealing with outcomes is part of the blueprint.

How to be happy

  • Happiness is a choice.
  • To increase your chances of happiness you need to have a plan and implement it.
  • Define what makes you and your Chimp happy.
  • Adding extras will lift you into happiness.
  • Develop your “having” ( achievements, possessions, emotional, physical, intellectual) and “being” (self- image, self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence).
  • Establish a “happiness approach”
    • look for solutions, don’t dwell on problems
    • choose how much a situation bothers you
    • choose how long you want to stay in this frame of mind
    • learn to laugh at yourself and have a sense of humor
    • be proactive
    • deal with the cause not the symptoms
  • Establish a “happiness list”
    • make a list of what makes you happy or unhappy so you can focus on the things which make you happy and not on the things which make you unhappy
  • Put in place “happiness promoters”.  Replace the unhappy gremlins with happy autopilots.

How to be confident

  • Confidence is based on one or two ways of thinking: the Human or the Chimp
  • You have a choice to base your confidence on “doing your best”.
  • “Doing your best” as a basis gives 100% confidence.
  • Self-confidence is enhanced when you have a realistic expectation of yourself.

How to develop security

  • Security is one of the major stabilisers for happiness.
  • The Chimp frequently seeks out security unrealistically.
  • Healthy normal Chimps have fears and concerns over security and vulnerability.
  • The Human needs to place an Autopilot into the Computer to steady the Chimp.

Book Notes : The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  • Survivorship Bias – The result is biased by the people who survived meaning people overestimate their chance of success
  • Swimmer’s Body Bias – There selection bias, not everyone is able to be a world class swimmer so you have to be realistic before you try to be
  • Clustering Illusion – People love to see patterns when none exist, in reality could be purely random
  • Social Proof – Just because something is popular does not mean it is the best/right
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy – You have to ignore what has already been invested and evaluate from where we are now if something is worth investing in
  • Reciprocity – People feel obliged to reciprocate and this is used in shops to get you to try their product then you feel obliged to buy some
    Confirmation Bias – We filter out any information which does not conflict with out existing belief. Actively try to disprove your opinion.
  • Authority Bias – The position of Consultants, CEOs etc might bias your own thoughts and where this happens you should challenge them
  • Contrast Effect – You make a decision because of your previous experience, not because of the current options outcomes
  • Availability Bias – People make decisions based on easy to get information rather than the right information
  • The It’ll-get-worse-before-it-gets-better Fallacy – aka the person has no idea and so this fallacy is win win for them
  • Story Bias – Stories give a false sense of understanding and omit or gloss over the actually important parts if they don’t fit a nice narrative
  • Hindsight Bias – People think they can remember the past but this is not the case, the only way to do this is to keep a diary not through recollection
  • Overconfidence Effect – People overestimate their own knowledge and sometimes underestimate to win a contract so be sceptical of predictions especially by experts
  • Chauffeur Knowledge – Where someone does not actually understand the content they are just presenting something like a news reader
  • Illusion of control – People think they can control more than they can, this is not the case so focus on the few areas you can actually influence
  • Incentive Super-Response Tendency – People are very responsive to incentives as such these can trump actually doing the right thing
  • Regression To The Mean – Where things return to average naturally over time, however people can attribute this to other factors which are just coincidental e.g. a consultant who came in
  • Outcome Bias – Disconnect the decision from the result. A bad decision can have a good outcome and a good decision can have a bad outcome. Record the decision and why for future reference
  • The Paradox of Choice – The more choices you have the more unsure and therefor dissatisfied you are afterwards. Decide on your criteria, stick to it, realise there is no perfect decision and that ‘good enough’ is the new optimum
  • Liking Bias – People buy more from people who think they like them. Always judge a product independently of who is selling it or pretend you did not like them.
  • Endowment Effect – People over-value their possessions more than the market does.
  • Coincidence – People read more into things than is actually there. “Never” does not exist, it just has a very small probability so on occasions it will happen.
  • Groupthink – If you find yourself in a unanimous group there is likely something wrong, consider appointing a devil’s advocate to ensure people feel safe to speak up
  • Neglect of Probability – People don’t naturally understand probabilities and overestimate their outcome meaning 1% and 100% appear very similar to people, the only exception being 0%
  • Scarcity Error – Either you want something or you done but people are motivated to buy things when they think they might loose the option to own it in the future e.g. “last few remaining” promotions
  • Base-Rate Neglect – People don’t take into account the actual likelihood of something happening
  • Gambler’s Fallacy – If a coin flip has been heads three times the next flip is still equally likely to be heads or tails, independent random events are independent
  • The Anchor – This sets peoples expectations and will draw you closer to it than you might have independently decided
  • Induction – As a result of history we predict the future, however this certainty is only provisional
  • Loss Aversion – People are more sensitive to loss and negativity so this will influence their decisions more
  • Social Loafing – Teams tend to take bigger decisions than their members would individually as blame is split if it goes wrong
  • Exponential Growth – People have no natural intuition for exponential growth
    Winner’s Curse – People want to win. As such people will over pay at auctions to “win” the prize
  • Fundamental Attribution Error – People over estimate peoples influence and underestimate external influences
  • False Causality – Correlation is not causality and its important to understand at a deeper level the link between effects
  • Halo Effect – Where one easy characteristic biases others, such as stock price on the performance of the CEO or beauty on the performance of a pianist
  • Alternative Paths – Your brain convinces you that you are on the best path and actively thinking about other paths is hard but needed
  • Forecast Illusion – Forecasts are rarely better than random but good forecasts get huge publicity and poor forecasts get quickly forgotten
  • Conjunction Fallacy – Humans feel that things which are more specific are more likely where as thing which are more specific are inherently less likely probabilistic
  • Framing – The ways you say things will impact how people think about things, e.g. saying the car has great millage will make people think of that not how good the engine is
  • Action Bias – People feel compelled to do something when they don’t have enough information to make a decision, even when doing nothing and learning more would be the better option
  • Omission Bias – This is where we don’t do something but we would not do the opposite e.g. we are less critical of companies which don’t release new products compared to companies which release bad ones, or building no emissions filter into a coal plant feels superior to removing one for cost reasons
  • Self-Serving Bias – You are biased in favour of yourself, if you do well it is all because of you if you do poorly it is because of the system or external factors
  • Hedonic Treadmill – We work hard, advance and are able to afford more and nicer things and yet this does not make us any happier
  • Self-Selection Bias – Where the result is influenced by the method. e.g. a telephone survey asking how many phone people have wont result in anyone without a phone
  • Association Bias – Read into the situation only what was there and nothing more. e.g. just because someone tells you some bad news don’t shoot the messenger
  • Beginner’s Luck – Things happen randomly and so its possible that you are lucky first time but don’t think you are a genius at at
  • Cognitive Dissonance – People convince themselves against their natural judgement e.g. if people do a boring task they don’t want to acknowledge that then they convince themselves it was better than they felt
  • Hyperbolic Discounting – People want instant rewards. If offered $1,000 in 12 months or $1,100 in 13 months most people would choose $1,100 but $1,000 today or $1,100 next month most people would choose the $1,000 today
  • “Because” justification – people feel better for knowing why. e.g. jumping to the front of the copier queue and saying “I need to use the copier because I need to copy some stuff” is perceived as better than “I need to use the copier” even though the content is the same
  • Decision Fatigue – Decision making is mentally exhausting and people would prefer to use instinct than conscious effort
  • Contagion Bias – People associate objects with people e.g. relics or photos of people
  • The Problem with Averages – Averages can be misleading, e.g. the wealth on a bus compared to the wealth on a bus with Bill Gates on it which does not change any of the previous passengers
  • Motivation Crowding – Where people are naturally motivated by something, e.g. collecting their children from day-care, adding a financial aspect to this can turn this from natural motivation to a purely financial transaction, e.g. the parent deciding that they will pay the extra $10 because then they can do something else in that time
  • Twaddle Tendency – Verbal expression is the mirror of the mind. Clear thoughts become clear statements, whereas ambiguous ideas transform into vacant ramblings.
  • Will Rogers Phenomenon/stage migration – this is where there are two groups, one out-performing another, and you move the worst performer from the higher performing group into the lower performing group then the average of both groups increase. e.g. sales rates of 1,2&3 in group A and 4,5&6 in group B, moving 4 to Group A will increase its average from 2 to 2.5 and Group B from 5 to 5.5 but in reality the total is the same
  • Information Bias – The idea that more information is better, in reality the facts in a sample of 100 people will likely be the same with 200 so the extra does not add any extra learning
  • Effort Justification – People feel that things they have put effort into are worth more, in reality this is not the case e.g. the value of your built Ikea Bookcase is the same as one someone else made
  • The Law of Small Numbers – If you measure the average theft rate per county then the best and the worst will be smaller counties because 0/100 or 1/100 are more extreme than 10/13,000. i.e. the small numbers make the averages more extreme
  • Expectations – People have expectations and when expectations are not met they are unhappy or will be punished (e.g. sacked). Randomly selected pupils who the teacher is told are better will perform better as the teacher will be more willing to help them
  • Simple Logic – People use the intuition part of their brain for logic but this does not regularly result in the correct answer
  • Forer Effect – Where people see what they want in things, given a generic text describing yourself you will agree with most of it and think the text is just about you
  • Volunteer’s Folly – People feel that by volunteering they are giving efficiently, in reality if you are paid $100 an hour it would be better for you to work an extra hour and donate the $100 for a specialist who can do the task better, quicker to a higher quality than an amateur
  • Affect Heuristic – People have a natural response which then impedes their decision making e.g. using the word luxury people will have an instant feeling about it
  • Introspection Illusion – People believe their predictions much more than they believe other peoples, it is difficult to be self critical
  • Inability to Close Doors – Deciding what not to do is hard but it is the key to focusing on what you are doing
  • Neomania – People believe in hype and project things in the future which are unlikely. Focusing on what has been will likely result in things which are around longer e.g. chairs
  • Sleepers Effect – propaganda, advertising, advice etc you can easily discount it in the moment but it seeps into you in the future without you realising it
  • Alternative Blindness – There are more alternatives than you realise, you will likely get offered two but in reality there are many more worth considering
  • Social Comparison Bias – People naturally feel scared about people who are better than them in some way, however supporting and developing them will be mutually beneficial in the future
  • Primacy And Recency Effects – People remember the initial impression and the final impression much more than the middle – remembering the middle is an active task which needs to be undertaken
  • Not-Invented-Here Syndrome – We prefer our own ideas where as some of the ideas externally were better we just did not want to admit it
    The Black Swan – If you want to ride a black swan you have to be open to it, you will never ride it if you don’t try
  • Domain Dependence – Transferring skills from one domain to another is not natural, but sitting back and identifying what professional experience you have and how you can apply it to your personal life could be beneficial
  • False-Consensus Effect – Most people extend their thoughts onto others e.g. overstating unanimity. In bussiness this could be the R&D department thinking their product is what people want where as in reality it is not
  • Falsification of History – Hindesite is not clear, we constantly re-interpret the past in our brain and as such it is not possible to know how we thought at a point in time or exactly why a decision was made – the only way to overcome it is with a diary.
  • In-Group Out-Group Bias – Prejudice and aversion are biological responses to anything foreign. As such there is a huge feeling of wanting to be in a group for safety.
  • Ambiguity Aversion – Dealing with ambiguity is needed, we will never have all of the information so we have to work with the information which we currently have
  • Default Effect – People stick with the default normally and rarely change from the status-quo, this is the simplest decision to make as effectively the decision has been made by someone else
  • Fear of Regret – People don’t like the closing of doors so when there are the “Last chance to buy” people will jump on it, where as in reality it is likely that the chance will come up again in the future
  • Salience Effect – People like a simple answer to everything and trivialise things down to one cause e.g. a book being on the best seller list because of its red colour, it is key to see past this and look at the other factors
  • House-Money Effect – People treat winning money differently to earning it, in reality the source of the money should have no effect on how you spend it
  • Procrastination – If you really need to get something done then tell people you are doing it, set public deadlines and focus.
  • Envy – In the past resources were scares so people were envious if someone had something they needed, these days resources are not scares but we still feel that if someone else has something we fear we can’t have it ourselves
  • Personification – People prefer stories compared to statistics, people are not moved by statistics but by faces and names
  • Illusion of Attention – People think they are paying more attention than they really are, sometimes you need to take a step back to see the whole picture such as the gorilla in the room
  • Strategic Misrepresentation – The best offer does not win, it is the one which looks best on paper. People over sell what they can do, it is key to see past performance and their successes or failures
  • Overthinking – Gut decisions are not meaningless e.g. which flavour of jelly do you prefer, if you try to rationalise it then you change the result which can give companies a stronger sense of reason but the wrong result
  • Planning Fallacy – The idea is that you can plan for every eventuality and that if things go wrong you could have mitigated it with more planning – planning can not be infinite else the project would never be delivered. Instead planning less and being sensitive to the changing environment is likely better
  • Deformation Professionnelle – People can only use their knowledge and experience to solve the problem and this might be there best solution but it is not the best solution for that you need to ensure you are asking the correct experts
  • Zeigarnik Effect – When people are thinking about things they can’t not think about them, there is no natural off switch. Instead noting them down or coming up with a next steps will give your brain the ability to move on
  • Illusion of Skill – Where chance is a significant factor people can appear to have more skill than they have, the outcome is just random and lucky for them
  • Feature-Positive Effect – People only think about the things which are happening and not the things which are not, war might be a big issue but the absence of war is rarely thought about
  • Cherry-Piking – People choose what to show and what not to show, it is this choosing which then amplifies the choice as people rarely look for what is not shown
  • Fallacy of the Single Cause – People like there to be a reason, a single reason, why something happened where as in reality there are likely multiple contributing factors
  • Intention-to-treat Error – Where the negative effects end up in the wrong category. e.g. Fast driver and slow drivers, the journey time for slow drivers is longer than that for fast drivers however if a fast driver has an accident they will end up in the slow drivers category skewing the numbers
  • News Illusion – We think news is very important but looking back how many have actually impacted our lives, in reality if something did we would know about it anyway so news is not very useful in the grand scheme of life