Five Practical Things N° 1


Tools for thinking
An excerpt from Daniel Dennett’s new book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, outlines seven of Dennett’s tools for thi

These basically work for feedback, too. Copying mostly whole-cloth from Kottke until the book he references magically appears via Prime.

  1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

This *absolutely works*. Try it.

Positive Feedback

Positive feedback - Wikipedia

Positive feedback is a process in which the effects of a small disturbance on a system include an increase in the magnitude of the perturbation.

Worth remembering what feedback is for: to push for more or less of a given behavior or output.

Also worth remembering that positive feedback loops can cause terrible harm. They cause stampedes, fell bridges, and drive runs on banks. Negative feedback loops, by contrast, can provide stability in a system. This isn’t to say, “Negative Good, Positive Bad” but rather…be mindful of the role feedback plays in a system.

Request time, Personal & Professional SLAs

Cyrus Stoller | Stop sending emails for real time requests
tl;dr If you need something to be done in:
30 minutes: call
two hours: text
today: IM
a day or later: email

Decide what your response time will be for various media, communicate it, and hold to it.

I’d love to see more service-level agreements (SLAs) posted for individuals and companies. Maybe /SLA can be the new /contact. Just a thought.

Believers Only

The Woman Behind the Netflix Culture Doc
Patty McCord drafted the foundational document on culture in Silicon Valley for Netflix. Here, she highlights the key takeaways.
Here’s what you want in your first 100 employees: the best talent you can afford, who work hard and believe. The belief part can actually outdo the other two. It’s more than passion. Passion is such an interpretive statement. People need to believe. – Pat McCord, Netflix

Thursday and Friday of this week we had our trimesterly offsite (Undecurrent University, or UCU) where we shut down for two days to train, examine our cultural and business performance, and talk about how we want to work in the next trimester.

This line played over and over in my head as we talked about the things that are necessary for Undercurrent (and its clients) to be successful in the years ahead.

It’s quite clear to me now: there is a direct relationship between company scale and the number of people in the world that believe in that company’s purpose. Forgive the cliché attempt here, but we’re moving from attention economy to belief economy.

Manage Activities, Not People

The idea: Have 1-on-1 meetings with your team; Don’t delegate, but help set priorities; Manage the key activity, not the person in charge of it.

In that meeting, discuss:
What are the top five things you’ve been working on the last two weeks?
Do those match to the items you’re accountable for in the 90 Day Plan?
What are you doing to advance the careers of the people you lead?


The 1-on-1 meeting structure above really focuses your Team on what actions they’re taking to advance the company’s goals. I’m not delegating things to my Leaders. I’m asking them what they’re doing to advance the goals of the company. They have freedom to attack our top priorities however they see fit, and then I hold them accountable to that.

Good stuff.

See what I’m talking about. (This link has been lost to the sands of time.)

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