As organizations grow in size, collaborating with other teams can either be high leverage or a productivity killer. A simple way to understand which outcome is more likely is to take a moment to understand and clarify everyone’s incentives.
If incentives are all aligned – i.e., if everyone is aligned on the metrics that matter, it’ll come down to our ability to collaborate and build strong relationships.
But, if they’re not, it is best to stop the conversation right there. The worst possible move is to spend hours attempting to convince people of our point-of-view. Even if they are convinced, it won’t matter if that’s not what they’re paid to do.
The only way out at this point is to discuss/escalate so someone with decision making power over both teams can clarify incentives.
Investing in aligning on the incentives at the start saves a ton of wasted time later.
Derek Sivers once shared a powerful post on drama – his notes from a talk by the late Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut explained why people have such a need for drama in their life. He said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.”
For example, here’s the arc of Cinderella.
Or here’s a typical disaster story that might show up in the news.
There’s of course the hero journey – ascent, downfall, and the return to glory.
The trouble is that the arc of real life is something like this.
Vonnegut observed – “But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”
I remembered these graphs in a conversation about drama recently. Over the years, we’ve gravitated toward people and environments that also embrace a “no drama” ethos. It follows along the lines of “you never know if a good day is a good day.”
But, it is one thing to appreciate “no drama” and another to understand why we have so much of it around us. I’m grateful to Kurt Vonnegut for explaining it so beautifully.
His conclusion was on point – “But there’s a lesson here for us to learn, should we choose to do so. The reflexive framing of policy as a choice between human lives and dollars of GDP is often a false one; in the end, the economy is made up of human beings, and valuing those human beings is pretty much the best thing you can do for your economy.”
In the early days of the pandemic, I shared a collection of notes (mostly bearish) on the Swedish experiment. That experiment failed. They lost more people to COVID-19 and did worse economically than their Nordic peers.
(3) In the past weeks, we learnt of a few folks we knew in India who developed COVID-19 even after vaccination.
Then again, this isn’t or shouldn’t be shocking. The AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy is between 80-90%. So, 1 out of every 10 people would be expected to experience symptoms.
But, probability isn’t easy to grok. I wonder if communicating risks in terms of x out of every 10 or 20 people would be easier to understand than 80% or 95%.
(4) Related, Zeynep Tufecki had another good post that covered why rare stories of vaccinated folks developing COVID-19 symptoms is evidence of the fact that vaccines were a home run.
(5) The US vaccine roll out has begun slowing. This is a problem – a big one if left unaddressed. Noah Smith had notes on this.
(6) Finally, I’m grateful for the vaccine and for not wearing a mask outdoors. We’re not done with the pandemic and masks just yet. Especially if we’re traveling to places that are not over the hump.
But, Noah Smith had a thoughtful philosophical post on masks after the pandemic that was thought provoking.
“True learning (as opposed to education) is a voluntary experience that requires tension and discomfort (the persistent feeling of incompetence as we get better at a skill).” | Seth Godin, The Practice
Seth’s articulation of the ingredients required for learning to happen resonated with me.
It reminded me of a note I’d shared recently.
The term “Growth mindset” inspires images of a wonderful journey full of positive momentum and learning along the way.
The daily reality of attempting to live it is anything but. It is more likely we come across words like – bump, imposter, dissatisfaction, questions, uncertainty, obstacle, surprise, a punch in the gut, fear, and stretch. Lots of stretch.
It isn’t intuitive to consistently seek out tension, discomfort, or stretch.
Every good document goes through at least three rewrites.
After we get to a certain level of comfort/competence with writing, the biggest obstacle to shipping a good document turns out to be our resistance to rip it all up based on the feedback we receive and start over.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.
These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” | Elisabeth Kübler Ross