Stilgherrian’s links for 26 May 2008 through 01 June 2008, gathered semi-automatically and covering a disturbing range of topics:
Episode 2 of Stilgherrian Live Alpha is being “recorded live” tonight at 9.30pm Sydney time, though do feel free to arrive early. My good friend and colleague Zern Liew will be joining me from Singapore to talk about his recent visit to China’s three largest cities, amongst other things. I’ve also spoken to Ustream technical support and I think we’ve solved the talkback / co-host problem… fingers crossed!
Here’s one for a rainy Monday morning. 37signals’ experimental 4-day working week is going very well.
When I first compared this enlightened approach to people-management with the drive-them-harder style of Jason Calacanis, it triggered a massive debate, and I wrote a follow-up comparing the Calacanis approach to an evil cult. Last week 37signals reckoned that urgency is poisonous.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that urgency is overrated. In fact, I’ve come to believe urgency is poisonous. Urgency may get things done a few days sooner, but what does it cost in morale? Few things burn morale like urgency. Urgency is acidic.
Emergency is the only urgency. Almost anything else can wait a few days. It’s OK. There are exceptions (a trade show, a conference), but those are rare.
When a few days extra turns into a few weeks extra then there’s a problem, but what really has to be done by Friday that can’t wait for Monday or Tuesday? If your deliveries are that critical to the hour or day, maybe you’re setting up false priorities and dangerous expectations.
If you’re a just-in-time provider of industry parts then precise deadlines and deliveries may be required, but in the software industry urgency is self-imposed and morale-busting. If stress is a weed, urgency is the seed. Don’t plant it if you can help it.
I can’t agree more. A client phoned once, all a’fluster about an “emergency”. Before I could think, I blurted out the question, “Why? Whose life is in peril?”
Of course no-one was in danger. This client was operating in crisis mode, as usual: that anti-pattern also known as “firefighting mode”: “Dealing with things only when they become a crisis, with the result that everything becomes a crisis.” I’ve written about that before here and with my colleague Zern Liew.
My business Prussia.Net always has clients who resist any long-term IT planning. While researching potential suppliers to handle our increasing workload, I stumbled across the best explanation I’ve ever seen for how the process should work.
Many SOHO and very small business seem to have no plan for their IT at all. Most, actually. They just call for help when something breaks, and only replace computers and other equipment when it’s completely dead. They complain that their computers are slow or unreliable, and yet resist spending anything on preventative maintenance or minor upgrades which could deliver substantial improvements.
Zern Liew and I have discussed the causes of this before. However the two key elements are, I think, a lack of understanding of IT issues and the perception that doing things professionally will be expensive.
Last year Australian IT services company First Focus‘s website presented a 3-phase model for developing professionally-managed IT. They removed it when they renovated the site, which I think was a mistake. But here it is anyway, thanks to The Wayback Machine…
Oh, I get it. Social media “guru” Laurel Papworth has to kill time before her Saudi trip gets sorted out. So what does this visionary of society’s future do? She ropes me into a blogging meme. How modern. How avant garde!
Laurel was tagged three months ago and is only getting to it now. And they’re not even real ropes!
Is that enough slagging-off? Shall I get on with it now?
Actually this will be fun on a Saturday morning. It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these. Here goes…