It’s Hard To Ask Good Questions

It’s amazingly hard to ask good questions. I’ve been in investigative mode over the last month; trying to understand the root cause of a performance issue and also designing a potential new business model. Both projects mean I’ve had to ask a lot of questions. And they also mean I have had to remind myself…

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Three Ways that Simplicity Pays

Remember ‘keep it simple, stupid’? Even though it has been a popular mantra since 1960, simplicity is a hot topic these days. In my previous blog, Is Complex Better than Complicated?, I wrote about two Zen of Python’s 20 design principles: Simple is better than complex. Complex is better than complicated. Ultimately, simple is what we are…

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Is Complex Better Than Complicated?

Unless you have a software background, you’ve probably never heard of longtime Pythoncoder Tim Peters. In Zen of Python, he suggests 20 design principles including: Simple is better than complex. Complex is better than complicated. How is “complex” better than “complicated”? After all, their dictionary definitions are similar and they are listed synonyms in the thesaurus: Complex – adj. not…

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Four Oxen and the Lion

During my career I’ve often used animal stories to help illustrate specific points, reinforce behaviors, or to provide colorful rallying cries. Whether it’s elephants, monkeys, or camels, stories about animals are easy to remember and therefore more likely to be repeated. The heart of good communication is repetition. When I originally introduced the story of the…

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For Networks, Bigger Is Not Always Better

Practically everyone has a machine-to-machine Internet of Things story they like to tell. It might be refrigerators automatically reordering milk, cows that send texts to farmers when they’re in heat, or understanding the demand for ice cream in real-time. We are living in a networked economy. The traditional understanding of networks is based on the…

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Fail

Fantastic Failures from Famous Folk

As a way of encouraging my team to take more risks, I’ve been espousing the philosophy “Failure is the new black” and have been cataloging quotes on failure from famous people. But increased risk-taking doesn’t just come from pithy quotes, it helps to provide examples of people who failed… and thrived.  Here are four such stories:…

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McChrystal on Leadership

Seven years ago (!) I wrote a blog titled Management by Marching Around which suggested that traditional command and control leadership no longer worked in business – or in the military. Instead, I believe in management by influence (suggesting direction) more than by control (enforcing rules). I also recommend management by exception (tell me about…

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