Amy Padnani and Overlooked

I had the opportunity to attend Amy Padnani’s CreativeMornings talk a few weeks back. She was so good!

Amy took on a project as an editor on the New York Times obituary desk centered on the question of “Why don’t you have more women and people of color in your obituaries?”

The result is Overlooked, an ongoing series of obituaries for women and people of color that deserved an NYT obituary when they died but didn’t get one. There’s a book and a TV show on the way.

Not only is it an inspirational project for equality reasons, it was cool to hear her talk about navigating the bureaucracy, tradition, and status quo of the organization to make the project happen.

Time boxing and SNL

Bud tweeted:

So I watched:

And it was terrific. It’s amazing that the show happens every week.

Time-boxing is also a critical element of Niels Pflaeging’s Very Fast Organizational Transformation: “The insight here is quite intuitive, really: We should always time-box (or: ‘restrict’) periods of time during which specific organizational development work is supposed to take place. This way, we do not artificially fix the scope of the work, but the time allocated.”

Thinking and learning

Sam Altman wrote something about being successful. I don’t believe there’s a single path to success but I do think the points he makes are valid and this argument he makes about thinking is good, especially as thinking, I believe, is a critical component of learning.

3. Learn to think independently

Entrepreneurship is very difficult to teach because original thinking is very difficult to teach. School is not set up to teach this—in fact, it generally rewards the opposite. So you have to cultivate it on your own.

Thinking from first principles and trying to generate new ideas is fun, and finding people to exchange them with is a great way to get better at this. The next step is to find easy, fast ways to test these ideas in the real world.

“I will fail many times, and I will be really right once” is the entrepreneurs’ way. You have to give yourself a lot of chances to get lucky.

One of the most powerful lessons to learn is that you can figure out what to do in situations that seem to have no solution. The more times you do this, the more you will believe it. Grit comes from learning you can get back up after you get knocked down.

Practice, the “Learning Loop” and peer-to-peer learning

Practice! In the wild. This story from a Harvard Business Review about peer-to-peer learning by Kelly Palmer and David Blake:

For example, when Kelly was in charge of learning at LinkedIn, her team created a peer-to-peer learning program designed around the company’s key corporate values. One section of the program focused on difficult conversations; each participant was asked to identify a real-life difficult conversation they needed to have at work (especially one they might be avoiding). They were first taught about difficult conversations (stage 1); next they practiced with each other before holding the conversations in real life (stage 2). One of the participants, John, confronted his employee Mark about his missed deadlines, a pattern which had been negatively affecting the team. The conversation did not go well — John felt awkward, and Mark got defensive. When John shared this experience with his peers in the learning group, they openly shared their views and ideas, and their own experiences of similar situations (stage 3). As everyone in the group — not just John — reflected on what they had learned, they concluded that they had all become more confident and armed with ideas about how to better handle a similar situation in the future (stage 4). Later group members indicated that their real-world difficult conversations indeed had become more productive.

The “Learning Loop” seems a sensible approach to learning:

People gain new skills best in any situation that includes all four stages of what we call the “Learning Loop”: gain knowledge; practice by applying that knowledge; get feedback; and reflect on what has been learned.

And, as an afterthought to the practice example, peer-to-peer learning seems to be a giant opportunity to improve learning in organizations.