How Do We Decide?

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Teams make lots of decisions. Important decisions. Trivial decisions. Urgent decisions. Wide-ranging decisions.

But teams very rarely ever think about HOW they decide. Startups generally start with consensus and either keep relying on it as they scale which slows them down OR they fall back on a single leader who, as the company grows, becomes less and less equipped to see all aspects of the business.

We made this team decision making tool to help teams find the best way to make a decision together.

It leads teams through picking from: AutocraticAvoidantConsensusConsentConsultativeDelegationDemocratic, and Stochastic decision making.

Check it out and leave us some feedback.


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Military Standards

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My niche perspective is this: in the Army, firearms are much more heavily regulated than in civil society. How can so many enthusiastic gun owners say that they hold the military as a model, and yet not accept the strict regulations that go with the military’s use of firearms? […] This is another facet of rights without responsibility, or privilege without duty.

A note from an Army Officer and reader of The Atlantic.

“Well, someone has to know this stuff”

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I fucking love science.

The mindset of make a guess, test it as best you can, and record everything for the next person to learn from seems like the most meaningful path we individuals can take as members of a social species. It emboldens our personal creativity and answers for our impermanence at the same time.

This talk explores the ancient relay race of our knowledge in mathematics, starting at 3000 BCE. That we can even trace the race is astounding. That we have created institutions like this community college to continue the race is hope inspiring.

Also, it’s the job of every generation to convince the next to pursue the race.

Barlow’s Principles of Adult Behavior

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self reflection

Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night. I honestly didn’t know much about him, but reading the outpouring of eulogies across the web today I wish I had met the man. It must be the mark of a life well spent to be able to leave a momentary gaping hole of reverance in the chaos and cynicism that is the web.

Everyone has been sharing Barlow’s Principles of Adult Behavior, a list he created when he was 30:

  1. Be patient. No matter what.
  2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
  3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
  4. Expand your sense of the possible.
  5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
  6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
  7. Tolerate ambiguity.
  8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
  9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
  10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
  11. Give up blood sports.
  12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
  13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
  14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
  15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
  16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
  17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
  18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
  19. Become less suspicious of joy.
  20. Understand humility.
  21. Remember that love forgives everything.
  22. Foster dignity.
  23. Live memorably.
  24. Love yourself.
  25. Endure.

I love this list. Personally at 35, I most struggle with #19, #3, #24, and #25 (in that order). I was never into #11 or #15, so that’s a load off. Related to #2, I am a notorious “say how you really feel to someone’s face” person, but I’m beginning to learn that it’s less of a virtue than I once believed.

I’m Only One Person

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Let me beguile you just a little bit more about extended families. Let us talk about divorce, and that fact that one out of every three of us here has been or will be divorced. When we do it, we will very likely wrangle and wail and weep formlessly about money and sex, about treachery, about outgrowing one another, about how close love is to hate, and so on. Nobody ever gets anywhere near close to the truth, which is this: the nuclear family doesn’t provide nearly enough companionship.

I am going to write a play about the breakup of a marriage, and at the end of the play I am going to have a character say what people should say to each other in real life at the end of a marriage: “I’m sorry. You, being human, need a hundred different affectionate and like-minded companions. I’m only one person. I’ve tried, but I could never be a hundred people to you. You’ve tried, but you could never be a hundred people to me. Too bad. Goodbye.”

Kurt Vonnegut, again.

This Model is Wrong, But is it Useful?

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2×2 matrices map extremes. That’s their function. So as drawn, they obliterate nuance. And yes, they are overused.

The measure of a 2×2 matrix isn’t in how well it captures reality, but in the quality of conversation it produces in response to its narrow-mindedness. As you feel out where it fails to accurately depict you or a situation you find yourself in, does it force you to meaningfully examine the underlying factors and forces that produce greater complexity than is shown?

I doodled this on the drive to work today as a way of thinking about the beliefs leaders hold and how they approach the job of leadership. It is clearly wrong and reductive. But does it start a useful conversation?

For me, it made me think about why I advocate for the top-right quadrant but my own instincts often drag me into the lower-left quadrant. I wondered where those instincts came from (my stint in advertising was grounded in confrontational strategies, for example) and how I could overcome them. So for me, it was useful even if it was wrong.

How about you?

Forbidding The Privilege of Stopping

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It would not be easy, no—for in order to win such a battle, he would have to forbid himself the privilege of stopping, and whatever he did right he would have to repeat, as though he were already living in eternity.

Tom Junod.

This quote really nails something I’ve struggled with since starting a company. When you find something successful you have to keep repeating yourself even if you’d rather, out of vanity or boredom, stop. Forbidding yourself from stopping is a discipline we don’t talk enough about.