Grab Bag, May 5

Here’s a collection of some random items I’ve found interesting recently.

How Managers Can Make Group Projects More Efficient

While it’s important that you hear out and value others’ perspectives, the reality is that not everything is or should be a consensus-based decision. If you’re going to make the final decision, tell people that up front. You can’t get people fired up and excited only to have them find out afterward that you had 51% of the vote. Collaboration becomes messy when there is ambiguity over who is accountable for which decisions, causing decision making to stall.

Having a “seat at the table” doesn’t mean that you have equal say in decisions, but that’s how it’s often read without clear direction.

Lead Bullets

This is an old (well, internet-old, at 6 years past) essay, but one that’s well worth a read if you work in the startup world and aren’t familiar with it.

The issue with their ideas was that we weren’t facing a market problem. The customers were buying; they just weren’t buying our product. This was not a time to pivot. So I said the same thing to every one of them: “There are no silver bullets for this, only lead bullets.” They did not want to hear that, but it made things clear: we had to build a better product. There was no other way out. No window, no hole, no escape hatch, no backdoor. We had to go through the front door and deal with the big, ugly guy blocking it. Lead bullets.

Everyone Likes Flex Time, but We Punish Women Who Use It

In a recent study by Furman University’s Christin Munsch, the reactions that men and women receive when requesting flexible work requests are quite different — and quite favorable to men.

Who doesn’t like the occasional reminder that unconscious bias can flare up in all kinds of unanticipated and hurtful ways. (Also, go Furman!)

Why the theory of dominant design matters for your product: an engineer’s take

It seems counter-intuitive (especially to an engineer) to not try build the best product we can. But the key is that before a dominant design emerges, there is no standard by which to measure “best” against. It is only after a new standard emerges that consumers start thinking about the “best”.

Your Culture is Rotting

Whoever came up with the name “Human Resources” deserves a medal. Such a descriptive, helpful, and seemingly useful name. Why yes, I’m human and I sure could use some resources. Purely viewed by the name, Humans Resources or HR seems like such a great idea. These are the people who are responsible for looking after your people whether it’s their health, compensation, or career.
So, why do we freak out when HR is in the building? What’s with the hush whispers when you see your boss huddled with HR in her office? Layoffs? Reorg? Has anyone seen Ryan today? HR’s presence typically makes folks paranoid. I’ll repeat that: the folks whose job it is to be resources for humans collectively gives us the shakes. What happened?
It’s not HR; it’s your culture.

What 20 Years as a Remote Organization Has Taught Us About Managing Remote Teams

While there are more instances of such centralization, our leadership team maintains a very high bar for such decisions because too much control can erode mutual trust.

In remote teams, control issues are much more exacerbated and apparent than they might be in an office. This can be a difficult problem to identify and resolve in a “hybrid” environment (i.e. a central office that has remote team members, as opposed to a purely collocated or purely remote team).

In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books

Clickbait title, I’m sorry, but an interesting look at the opportunity cost of social media use.

And last but not least… TIME CRYSTALS.