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Handpicked: Classifications, A Listening Politician, Grown Men Cry and Leceister City

Articles I Saved

Intertwingled Book Excerpt

Benchley’s Law – there are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t – points us in the right direction. To collaborate, we must admit ambiguity and complexity, and avoid premature classification.

41bj3omn05l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Intertwingled is in my top 10 non-fiction books. I enjoyed it enough to have read it twice within 12 months.

This article is one of a series of excerpt that Peter Morville, the author, has been writing from his books.

This article covers one of the core messages in the book, classification.

I am intrigued by the idea of how we classify things. It influences our conversation and the way we see the world. Many of the difficult topics are in some sense bounded by their classification; race, religion, equality, feminism etc. are all forms of grouping. We like to believe that there are clear boundaries, but the truth is never that binary. Things are never that clear.

The real world is grey. Everything is grey. We think it’s not. That is just an illusion.

It all depends on where you start from. If you can change the way a person classifies what they see, you change how they see, and therefore how they think about it.

I work with ambiguity all day. As a business analyst you have to be comfortable with ambiguity and complexity, because that is where the truth is. Continue reading Handpicked: Classifications, A Listening Politician, Grown Men Cry and Leceister City

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Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

A much shorter version this week. I was travelling with work and ended up reading and listening less than I thought.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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The chapter I have been slow to read this week is called ‘Improving Your Reflecting Skills’.

Put another way this is about improved listening.

I won’t comment much further but leave you with a few selected quotes.

Many times a person will discuss his problems with a spouse or friend and leave without any solution in sight. The speaker will often have greater insight into the problem and the alternatives facing him. He may need time to mull over these ideas and options before moving on to a firm decision.

Though it can be frustrating for the listener to get involved with another and not see the problem resolved immediately, that kind of tension is part of the cost of being a creative listener.

That last passage gets to a question that has been on my mind reading this book, and probably gets to something I need to work on; When do you do more than listen?

He goes on:

When people are not heard and responded to, time can be saved in the short run, but in the long run, the resulting misunderstanding and alienation will often require far more time or take an enormous toll on efficiency. Experience has demonstrated that when employers do not take time to listen to employees, when salespersons do not understand their customers’ needs, and when teachers do not hear the concerns of their students, they are far less efficient in accomplishing their tasks. Listening often seems to be inefficient, but when there are strong needs, deep feelings, or important concerns, the refusal to listen is very detrimental and can result in wasted time, effort, and money.

It is hard to take the step back and listen. I find it easy at times, at work in particular. In my job I know that listening and getting it right up front pays off later in a project.

* Emphasis on those quotes is mine.

Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Change by Chris Argyris

Continue reading Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

A shorter, and hopefully more useful format this week. Let me know what you think.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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This week covered body language.

You can read more on what I learn here.

 

 

As Gerard Egan says, the averted face may mean an averted heart:

“Our approach to communication stresses the primacy of feelings. Unquestionably the content of the conversation can be very important. When the emotions are strongly engaged, however, they should normally receive primary attention. Since nonverbals are the major means of communicating emotions, they are central to understanding many of the most important things that others communicate to us.”

Honourable Fiction Book Mention

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9969571I won’t normally mention a fiction book I am reading. Fiction is escapism for me, my evening reading when the brain needs a rest.

However, this book was mentioned in passing in a few podcasts. They never spoke about it explicitly.

It is worthy of mention here is it paints a possible future only 20 years out where Virtual Reality, in particular, has become the drug of choice. The parallels with our obsession with smartphones and Facebook are too easy to imagine. If you find yourself checking Facebook 10 times a day you could imagine yourself living a life in this alternate reality.

Continue reading Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

Handpicked: We Can’t Read Minds, We Forgive Ourselves, And What Might Happen When we Lose Words

This post is late following my distraction by the Brexit vote on Friday.

So here is my post on what I was reading or listening to last week.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

 

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People Skills by Robert Bolton.

More from this book recommended at the end of the Secrets of Consulting by Gerry Weinberg.

One image, prompted by a similar diagram in the book, keeps coming to mind as I think about what I have read. Below is my own version.  I have seen similar diagrams before.

Continue reading Handpicked: We Can’t Read Minds, We Forgive Ourselves, And What Might Happen When we Lose Words

Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Here is my weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

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The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

I finished this book on the weekend. It is a great read.

I reviewed the book and made more detailed observations in this post.

Favourite Highlight from the week?

“The fear people have about the idea of adherence to protocol is rigidity. They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them. But what you find, when a checklist is well made, is exactly the opposite. The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with (Are the elevator controls set? Did the patient get her antibiotics on time? Did the managers sell all their shares? Is everyone on the same page here?), and lets it rise above to focus on the hard stuff (Where should we land [the aeroplane]?).”

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People Skills by Robert Bolton.

This book was recommended at the end of the Secrets of Consulting by Gerry Weinberg.

I am enjoying it. I can definitely learn from it. It is about communication and understanding. It is in many ways about perception. When I read the third quote below I knew this book was for me.

So far the book has discussed barriers to communication. The things we do consciously or not that get in the way of effective communication. There are twelve barriers he mentions, many of which are surprising.

I will break with my protocol and add a quote here form the book which is worth contemplating. This is a quote within a quote at the start of Chapter Two.

“A barrier to communication is something that keeps meanings from meeting. Meaning barriers exist between all people, making communication much more difficult than most people seem to realize. – Reuel Howe, theolgian and educator”

Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Here is my weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

41kbppigf7lThe Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

This book has been on my reading list for a while. A project I am on at the moment brought it to the fore again. How often do we over engineer a solution?

I have referred to checklists often in the last few years. I  have used them effectively in the past. Particularly with repetitive tasks.

Why would you want to figure out a set of steps again if you have done once before? Unnecessary effort, and you might miss a step.

The checklist also aids learning. Remembering what worked before and what didn’t. It helps make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.

Checklists come in many different guises, from a task list, to standard operating procedures, to run books, and sometimes as far as a project plan.

More to come on this book .

Favourite Highlight from the week?

“Four generations after the first aviation checklists went into use, a lesson is emerging: checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us—flaws of memory and attention and thoroughness. And because they do, they raise wide, unexpected possibilities.”


Podcasts I Heard

Hidden Brain on NPR: How To Build A Better Job

“Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. Across groups such as secretaries and custodians and computer programmers, Wrzesniewski finds people about equally split in whether they say they have a “job,” a “career” or a “calling.” This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Wrzesniewski about how we find meaning and purpose at work.”

Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Handpicked: My Week of Learning

This is the start of a weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to over the week.


Book am I reading?

Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg.

Favourite Highlight?

“In the end, the most important part of overcoming resistance is to prevent it from becoming frozen in place. That’s why I must always avoid “resisting the resistance.” I may win the argument, but I may also place the clients in a position where changing their mind is a form of “losing.” The risk of losing face in the here-and-now always seems bigger than the risk of losing a million dollars in the there-and-then.”

There is little to gain by ‘scoring points’. The aim should be to keep dialogue open if you are going to be effective. If you experience resistance, acknowledge it, listen. If you push too hard you may make it too hard for change to happen.


Podcasts I Listened To

I listen to podcasts on the way into work, when I walk at lunch, on the way home, when I cook, basically when ever I can. Here is a selection of the episodes I listened to that are worth mentioning. Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning