It’s interesting to note the subtitle: “how to get things right.” It’s important to be Getting Things Done, and it’s also important to be getting things done right.
Gawande’s book mostly looks at the field of medicine, but the point he makes shows the usefulness of checklists in all areas. Checklists do not necessarily stem from an attempt to get everything buttoned up for its own sake and don’t have to have the effect of stifling action. They can increase true effectiveness — and be pretty cool and interesting.
Here’s Challies’ first paragraph:
I’ve heard Atul Gawande referred to as “The Malcolm Gladwell of Doctors.” I suppose others have noticed what it took me all of two chapters to realize about this book–that there are clear similarities in writing style, in form, even in substance between Gawande and Gladwell. Gawande crafts his arguments much the way Gladwell does and uses references in much the same way. Overall it makes for enjoyable reading. Like Gladwell, he makes information interesting that, by rights, ought to be boring.
The review is relatively short, and it’s definitely worth reading the whole thing.
(Also, here’s a post I did on checklists and Gawande a few months ago.)
Here’s the full AP article on Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, which discusses his battle with brain cancer and the role played by his faith and vision of God in the midst of this suffering.
My wife recently posted some pictures off our our 4-year-old’s toy camera (that takes real pictures). She writes:
It is so interesting to see how her little mind works and the types of things that she takes pictures of. Below are a couple of examples. I see her pictures as a type of art, informing us of life through the eyes of a child.
I agree–these pictures are pretty profound, in my opinion (but of course I may be a bit biased!)
A good full color, multi-media, touch screen device for reading e-books — which the iPad now is — implies something about how electronic books should be conceived.
Electronic books should not simply be print books made accessible in electronic form. Rather, they should be conceived and created to take full advantage of what a device like the iPad makes possible, while remaining true to what a book is and what a book is for.
I have lots of thoughts on this I may post if I have the time. In the meantime, TechCrunch also has a post which begins to offer some thoughts on this.
A very interesting post over at TechCrunch: Top 10 Reasons the iPad Will Put the Kindle Out of Business.
A good question posed by Cali and Jody at the ROWE blog.
Here’s Penelope Trunk’s perspective on typos on blogs:
There is a new economy for writing. The focus has shifted toward taking risks with conversation and ideas, and away from hierarchical input (the editorial process) and perfection.
As the world of content and writing shifts, the spelling tyrants will be left behind. Here are five reasons why complaining about typos is totally stupid and outdated.
I don’t totally agree with her angle, but I do think we should be lenient about typos on blogs (and, as a time-pressed blogger, that’s a relief). It’s interesting to read the whole thing.
By now you’ve probably seen the videos on Apple’s site showing the iPad. But those aren’t always indicative of the way it actually works in real life. Luckily, Apple had plenty of iPads in a demo pit area after the event today and we captured some footage of a few applications actually being used.
In the video below see Apple’s new Keynote app (built specifically for the iPad), as well as the new iBooks app, in action. As you can see, the device is very fast. Also note the Apple employee talking about using the iPad to make calls.
These interactive images from CNN show a ride through Port-au-Prince.
This is Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talk on spaghetti sauce. Here’s the summary:
Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
From Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in Built to Last:
The proper first response to a changing world is not to ask, “How should we change?” but rather to ask, “What do we stand for and why do we exist?” This should never change. And then feel free to change everything else.
Good thoughts from Josh Sowin.
Godin’s post today is why write a book. The reason to write a book can be different from the reason to publish a book. He talks about both, since his new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? releases today.
A good update. This is especially interesting:
According to insiders who’ve spoken to TechCrunch, addition to being very “excited” by the rumored new device, Steve Jobs himself has said “this will be the most important thing I’ve ever done.” Apple execs are also reportedly telling friends that Steve is about as excited as they’ve ever seen him.
From Good to Great:
The biggest problems facing organizations today stem not from a dearth of new management ideas (we’re inundated with them), but primarily from a lack of understanding the basic fundamentals and, most problematic, a failure to consistently apply those fundamentals.
Tom Peters, in Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age:
To my 30-year-old readers: I hereby wager that when you’re my age, Wal-mart and Dell will be either dead or irrelevant.
I’m not positive on that — I think they can last. But that doesn’t mean they will. Will be interesting to see.
(Tom Peters, by the way, was I think around 60 when he wrote this. So I’m putting this in my tickler file for about 2036.)
From Studs Terkel’s 1972 book Working:
Work is about daily meaning as well as daily bread. For recognition as well as cash; for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. We have a right to ask of work that it include meaning, recognition, astonishment, and life.
That last line is worth repeating:
We have a right to ask of work that it include meaning, recognition, astonishment, and life.
- “Our consultant told us it was the next big thing.”
- “Our accountant made us do it to save money.”
- “Our lawyers said we had to or else we could get sued.”
- “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this one.”
- “IT says it would be a big mistake to do it that way.”
- “We tried that once; it doesn’t work in this kind of organization.”
It’s not that there can never be anything relevant in these statements. But very often they are used as substitutes for hard thinking — to justify taking the easy way out, and thus prematurely killing many paths of high potential.
You can learn a lot from football. Here are two examples from the recently finished Vikings-Saints game of things that appeared random (and cost the game), but were not. One of these things teaches us about systems, and the other teaches us about mindsets.
The Vikings fumbled something like 5 times in this game. It’s easy to look at fumbles as mishaps — something that the team does to itself. And this is sometimes the case. But often fumbles are caused. That was the case with many of the Vikings fumbles tonight. They weren’t accidents, but were the result of the Saints knocking the ball loose.
The Saints weren’t doing this because it happened to occur to them now and then. It was an intentional strategy on their part. They intentionally, consistently, and aggressively went after the football to try to cause fumbles and take it away. Which points to a system–an intentional and ongoing set of behaviors designed to accomplish a goal.
Every team tries to create take-aways. But the Saints were especially good at it tonight. Consequently, it was interesting to hear the announcers mention before the game that the Saints’ defensive coordinator has a very specific guiding philosophy: turn the game into a street fight.
He doesn’t mean that in a bad sense, in the sense of engaging in unfair play. Rather, the meaning is to be aggressive and play a very physical game. Part of this seems to be placing high emphasis in creating turnovers.
From what I can gather from a distance, then, it appears to me that we have evidence here of a really good system. First, the defensive coordinator has a guiding philosophy–which is always an advantage because it gives focus and clarity to direct action toward what is most important. Second, he fleshes this philosophy out in specific behaviors (such as: continually try to knock the ball out). Third, it seems likely that he continually emphasizes and reinforces his philosophy to the defense–for, if he didn’t, it’s likely that it would not be on their radar to that extent.
Here’s the upshot: things that appeared random and spontaneous (in this case, fumbles) were actually the result of a well-conceived, well-implemented system. The specific fumbles that occurred were not (and could not have been) planned; but the fact that they happened was rather the outcome of a well executed strategy (and some failure on the Vikings to anticipate the Saints’ level of focus on creating fumbles), without which they likely wouldn’t have happened at all.
When Favre threw the interception on the Vikings’ final drive, the interception was not a random throw. It was not a bolt out of the blue. Certainly Favre didn’t intend to throw an interception, but the two actions that he took which led to the interception came right out of his standard pattern of play–his mindsets.
First, before throwing it came about that there was about 10 yards of open field in front of him. He could have kept running and got that ten yards, and seemed to contemplate doing so (which would have set the Vikings up well for the field goal). But instead, he threw the ball. Why?
I would argue that it was because of an ingrained mindset. He didn’t make a 50-50 decision in the moment, evaluating the options completely afresh. He passed because he appears to have a mindset which strongly inclines him to passing in those situations over running.
I’m inferring this because that’s the pattern he’s exhibited all year. One time he was even 4 yards past the line of scrimmage when he passed the ball, which doesn’t make sense without a strongly ingrained tendency to pass even when there is clear room to pick up decent yards by running.
There is nothing wrong with this preference. He probably developed it because he is so good at passing. It makes sense, and part of what makes someone an expert is precisely that they have developed patterns such as this.
So Favre’s choice to pass rather than just keep running with the ball was not random, and not something that came out of the blue in the moment, with no background.
Second, this particular pass was thrown across the field. As the announcers said afterward, this breaks the cardinal rule of passing. You never throw the ball across the field. However, I’ve seen Favre do this before. It looks like he doesn’t necessarily accept that rule fully. He probably agrees with it and typically acts in accord with it, but in certain situations has a tendency to throw across the field anyway. So this throw across the field was not random, either.
Both of the choices Favre made, consequently, appear to have had their roots in mindsets that were developed over an entire career of almost 20 years. This means that the outcome of the game (to the extent that these decisions affected it — and they weren’t the only thing that could have gone better) was not simply decided in the moment. It was the outcome a pre-existing framework of thought — some of which was probably developed intentionally, and some of which probably developed naturally through experience.
The point is this: Things that appear to have been decided spontaneously are often actually stemming from pre-existing systems and mindsets that have been a long time in the making. This, of course, is why teams practice.
What it shows us is that, in our lives and organizations, we should be intentional to put in place systems and mindsets that will make it easier and more likely for people to make the most effective choices.
Favre did a fantastic job all season and in this game. His final pass was not a failure; it simply shows that none of us are perfect. No systems or mindsets that we create or encourage ever will be. But we should be cognizant to the role that systems and mindsets play, and seek to make sure they are working for the organization as much as we possibly can.