Weekly Download 14.12


Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

How Did The Meter Get Its Length? If a foot equals 0.3048 of a meter, what is the length of a meter based on? Hint: it took a long time. Perhaps the precision wasn’t worth the effort!

Reinventing the Wheel gives proof that challenging historical conventions can make sense.

A corporate giant continues to evolve. The last time Apple split its stock, it was a completely different company. This month Apple’s stock split 7-for-1. What’s new since their last split in 2005?

The lizard brain is at work again, this time impacting our response to constructive feedback. When listening to criticism, don’t use the wrong part of your brain. Instead, tap into the mammalian side.

Simplistic, Simplify or Simple


Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Simplisticsimplify or simple. Are we using these words correctly and appreciating the differences between them? When strategizing or problem solving, it seems that all too often we shortcut to simplistic in the pursuit of solution. An orientation toward action may cause us to not fully examine the underlying complexities of a situation before moving ahead. That can result in landing on a solution too quickly that really isn’t a solution at all.

Sometimes we might simplify…we reduce down. This can be important, but it may also not be sufficient.

Simple can be hard. It can take time. Elegant is another word that comes to mind. We may have to work hard to take things away until we get to the very essential elements.

Think about the meaning of these words. When do we need to challenge ourselves to go further and achieve simple when we may have settled for simplifying or simplistic and called it “good enough” in the past?

Weekly Download 14.11

download-158006_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

Did PowerPoint Ruin GM? This interesting WSJ article describes the potential that facts relating to the ignition switch fault were edited out of long PowerPoint presentations at GM. It reminds me of a much older Edward Tufte essay that discusses the pitfalls of what is now commonly referred to as “death by PowerPoint.” Tufte also analyzes a Boeing presentation to NASA, and takes the company to task for oversimplifying and obscuring crucial information. How often do we let monotonous slides and the related editing process dictate the flow of conversation? Wouldn’t it be better to just write a report and not present anything? I have moved away from PowerPoint-driven meetings as much as possible, sometimes even handwriting the key points I want to discuss. How do you make sure the right dialogue is occurring in your meetings?

handdrawn meeting presentation

Sketch and photo by Mark Baker

I remember writing a blog entry (a rant, really) about six or seven years ago on why email needs to go away. We allow valuable hours to be driven (like Pavlov’s dog) by what arrives in our inbox. With the number of communication and information points today, it becomes unruly to manage the sifting and sorting. A Company Without Email? Not So Fast discusses a couple of solutions that are picking up traction.

You never know where simple, profound inspiration may be found. Like in a fortune cookie. Great Things are Made from Little Things cites one of my favorite quotes:

 “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”—Aristotle