Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 11, 2023

Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 11, 2023
Weekly Pulse is content curation and highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, ramblings, and other interesting things I discovered and digested during the week.

So, let's go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 - Innovation Killers: How Financial Tools Destroy Your Capacity
#2 - Meta Rediscovers the Cubicle
#3 - A Leader’s Framework for Decision-Making
#4 - The Crystal Agile Methodology
#5 - Book Notes: The Mythical Man-Month - Frederick P. Brooks

Innovation Killers: How Financial Tools Destroy Your Capacity to Do New Things

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Clayton M. Christensen, Stephen P. Kaufman, and Willy C. Shih
Year: 2008

Summary: The authors of the document argue that the use of discounted cash flow (DCF) and net present value (NPV) to evaluate investment opportunities causes managers to underestimate the real returns and benefits of proceeding with investments in innovation. Furthermore, they suggest that the focus on short-term earnings per share as the primary driver of share price and shareholder value creation acts to restrict investments in innovative long-term growth opportunities. They suggest alternative methods that can help managers innovate with more astute foresight, and highlight the need for better tools to understand markets, build brands, find customers, select employees, organize teams, and develop a strategy.

3 Highlights:

"... Discounted cash flow and net present value, as commonly used, underestimate the real returns and benefits of proceeding with an investment. Most executives compare the cash flows from innovation against the default scenario of doing nothing, assuming—incorrectly—that the present health of the company will persist indefinitely if the investment is not made...."

"... The emphasis on short-term earnings per share as the primary driver of share price, and hence shareholder value creation, acts to restrict investments in innovative long-term growth opportunities. These are not bad tools and concepts in and of themselves, but the way they are used to evaluate investments creates a systematic bias against successful innovation...."

"... Discovery-driven planning shines a spotlight on the place where senior management needs illumination—the assumptions that constitute the key uncertainties. More often than not, failure in innovation is rooted in not having asked an important question, rather than in having arrived at an incorrect answer. Today, processes like discovery-driven planning are more commonly used in entrepreneurial settings than in the large corporations that desperately need them..."

Meta Rediscovers the Cubicle

Source: Cal Newport Website
Author: Cal Newport
Year: 2023

Summary: Meta is abandoning its open office plan due to employee dissatisfaction and noise-related distractions. They are replacing it with a sound-absorbing, curved cubicle design. This shift may indicate a move away from early 21st-century distraction culture and toward a more productive future (as in the past?).

3 Highlights:

"... Developers need to concentrate,” explained an amused Joel Spolsky at a conference that year, before going on to add that Facebook was paying a 40 – 50% premium for talent because people didn’t want to work under those conditions...."

"... Apparently, the majority of people that work there make sure that they are away from their desk when they need to get work done..."

"... The open office boom is right up there with the spread of Slack as representing the peak of early 21st-century distraction culture — a period in which the knowledge sector completely disregarded any realities about how human brains actually go about the difficult task of creating value through cogitation...."

A Leader’s Framework for Decision-Making

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone
Year: 2017

Summary: Using the Cynefin framework can help executives sense which context they are in so that they can not only make better decisions but also avoid the problems that arise when their preferred management style causes them to make mistakes.

3 Highlights:

"... Simple and complicated contexts assume an ordered universe, where cause-and-effect relationships are perceptible, and right answers can be determined based on the facts..."

"... Complex and chaotic contexts are unordered—there is no immediately apparent relationship between cause and effect, and the way forward is determined based on emerging patterns..."

"... The very nature of the fifth context—disorder—makes it particularly difficult to recognize when one is in it. Here, multiple perspectives jostle for prominence, factional leaders argue with one another, and cacophony rules. The way out of this realm is to break down the situation into constituent parts and assign each to one of the other four realms..."

The Crystal Agile Methodology

Source: Article of the Week

The methodology was created by Alistair Cockburn, a renowned software development expert, and author of the book "Crystal Clear: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams".

Software development can be a complex and daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. 

The Crystal Agile methodology is another way of work that offers a clear and flexible approach to software development that emphasizes communication, simplicity, and human interaction.

Book Notes: The Mythical Man-Month - Frederick P. Brooks

Source: Book Notes of the Week

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering is a book on software engineering and project management by Fred Brooks first published in 1975.

Overall, "The Mythical Man-Month" is a seminal work that provides valuable insights into software development and management. 

Brooks' insights on communication, team dynamics, project management, and risk management are still relevant today, and the book remains a must-read for anyone interested in software development.

One of the key insights of the book is Brooks' observation that adding more people to a project can actually slow down its progress.

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