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Category Archives: Uncategorized

Postel’s law and communication

Michael Feathers shared what he called his abstract defense of Postel’s law: Open acceptance allows learning. Narrowness & restriction are valuable for protection, but they have opportunity costs that are largely hidden. It pays to investigate them to make informed design choices in every system – social & technical. I think Michael’s defense can be […]

Practicing empathetic communication

Thanks to a recommendation from Benjamin Mitchell I’ve been listening to the Feeling Good Podcast by Dr. David Burns. Dr. Burns has what he calls The Five Secrets Effective Communication. At last week’s London Organizational Learning Meetup we were able to get a bit of practice applying these secrets, in particular those related to empathy. Dr. […]

Coherence Busting explained

In Action Science workshops I teach a technique I call Coherence Busting. To understand why it is useful I ask the audience to imagine themselves making a proposal: “While you are talking you notice the main stakeholder — the person in the audience you most hope to persuade — glance at their watch. What do […]

Got “museum sleepies”? Illustrating mastery, learning and ego depletion

At a certain point in reading Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast & Slow I realized I had discovered a possible explanation for the mystery of “museum sleepies”. Museum sleepies is my wife‘s term for the fatigue we feel after a rather short time in a museum, a term we’ve used much more frequently since moving to London. I know this is […]

Pretend they are mind reading

At the prompting of Douglas Squirrel I just read Yossi Kreinin‘s blog post People can read their manager’s mind. This seemingly magical power is the mundane result of combining “People generally don’t do what they’re told, but what they expect to be rewarded for”, and people are good at spotting what is actually rewarded. As a manager/leader I’m taking […]

Playing to Win in Software

Subtitle: Lessons learned from video games This past year I’ve spent a lot of my time on Action Science as a route to organizational learning, and one of the real insights I’ve had is how painful it is to learn. Learning, according to Chris Argyris, is the detection and correction of error. The emotionally difficult part […]

That’s what learning feels like

None of us like to be wrong. I’ve tested this with many audiences, asking them “how does it feel when you’re wrong?” “Embarrassing”, “humiliating” or simply “bad” are among the most common answers. Stop now and try and think of your own list of words to describe the feeling of being wrong. These common and […]

“The story I’m making up…”

Last week at the August session of the London Action Science Meetup we started with a discussion of the phrase “the story I’m making up…” I love this phrase! It captures the process of the Ladder of Inference, but it has an immediate emotional resonance that the ladder does not. I came across this phrase from […]

Video: Frustrated? It is probably your fault

I had great fun with my Devopsdays Amsterdam talk and the video is now online, joining the slides that I posted previously. The last time I spoke at a Devopsdays was London 2013 (video here). That was another fun talk, and had some overlap in content, but I did feel that I tried to put […]

Slides: Frustrated? It is probably your fault

I’ve just delivered my talk Frustrated? It is probably your fault at Devopsdays Amsterdam. That means my slides must be finished! Here they are to download, and I’m looking forward to the video being posted later.