[Link] Remystifying Supply Chains

Venkatesh Rao’s post on the complexity – and more – of contemporary supply chains is a fantastic read:

Many engineered artifacts can be viewed largely in terms of their designed function without much loss in understanding. If you’re designing a truss, material properties and stress/strain calculations tell you almost everything you need to know about how it will perform in the field. You can go from paper-napkin sketch to CAD design, to prototype, to production artifact, via a largely one-way flow, with very little iteration, and not go too wrong.

This is not true of supply chains. Even though many of the pieces are designed and put together the way other engineering artifacts are, the effects of those behaviors are different. And they evolve over time.

[Link] The Truth About Open Offices

Like many others, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber question the value of the open office in this article in the HBR from 2019.  It’s particularly relevant when several companies are nudging their employees to return to the office, ostensibly for ‘collaboration‘ or ‘valuable human interaction‘:

When employees do want to interact, they choose the channel: face-to-face, video conference, phone, social media, email, messaging, and so on. Someone initiating an exchange decides how long it should last and whether it should be synchronous (a meeting or a huddle) or asynchronous (a message or a post). The recipient of, say, an email, a Slack message, or a text decides whether to respond immediately, down the road, or never.

Interestingly, the article also has this nugget, months before the pandemic driven remote-working enforcement:

If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.

[Link] The Spread of Improvement

Anton Howes in this excerpt from 2017 describes why innovation accelerated in Britain, what he attributes to:

the emergence and spread of an improving mentality, tracing its transmission from person to person and across the country. The mentality was not a technique, skill, or special understanding, but a frame of mind: innovators saw room for improvement where others saw none. The mentality could be received by anyone, and it could be applied to any field – anything, after all, could be better.

But what led to innovation’s acceleration was not just that the mentality spread: over the course of the eighteenth century innovators became increasingly committed to spreading the mentality further – they became innovation’s evangelists. By creating new institutions and adopting social norms conducive to openness and active sharing, innovators ensured the
continued dissemination of innovation, giving rise to modern economic growth in Britain and abroad.

 

[Link] Surviving A Fire

Bob Fulghum has faced many a challenge in his life, & a fire that swept through his neighbourhood hasn’t gotten him or his attitude down.

The first question was “What were my valuables?” Not much.
Just me and my memories and my attitude.
And I saved those.
As for “stuff”?
I always turn to the words of the 4th Century Greek philosopher, Epictetus, for perspective.
He said: When a neighbor breaks a bowl, we readily say,  ‘These things happen.’ When your own bowl breaks, you should respond in the same way as when another person’s bowl breaks.  Carry that understanding over to worldly consequences.