Greg shares some things. Monthly.
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First Thoughts

I don't know if you've noticed, but our world is getting increasingly complex. Chaotic, even. The way we've always done things often seems to be more of a curse than blessing. Why is it that yesterday's best practices don't seem to have the same zip as before? Why do we need a new initiative every time the calendar says "August?" What happened to the last initiative??

Personally, I've always had a weird fascination with systems. That is, trying to figure out what larger force(s) might influence decisions. If you look for them, you'll see the influence of systems and other networks of decision-making models at play on every aspect of your life. Right now, I'm drinking an iced macchiato at 3 in the afternoon. The matrix for this decision is explicit and conscious: I had a half-price coupon plus bonus stars for coming in after 11a. Other times, the system is invisible. Ever found yourself driving significantly faster or slower than you usually do, unconsciously because the cars around you are driving approximately the same speed? Ever stopped to wonder why New Year's Resolutions don't stick? (How's your's going, by the way?) Easy: every system has bias.

Some are biased towards action. Others inaction. Some are explicitly biased (innocent until proven guilty by unanimous consent of 12 people) and other systems are more subversive. Bias doesn't have to be conscious to be present, but instead of trying to create an unbiased system (or hunt for Bigfoot), you should instead try to create a system biased in the way you want things to move.

For example, well, just take a look at how Google quietly and effectively reduced m&m consumption in its NYC offices. In fact, over 7 weeks, they cut 3.1 MILLION calories from their employees' diets. And not a single word was ever spoken asking people to stop eating m&ms. 
So the next time you're hoping to make a change, think more about the system and less about the marketing.

What I'm Reading


Simple Habits for Complex Times

Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnston
I was given this book as part of my Education Policy Fellowship that wrapped up a couple months ago and I found it to be an incredibly relevant book in relation to my work but also in understanding the world around me. The premise is that we need to understand four types environments (simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic) and what kinds of strategies will work (or not work) in each. 

I highly recommend this to anyone who has ever been frustrated by quick fixes, simple solutions, or new initiatives that just make things worse. If you're like me, the world is always just a little more complex than the talking heads would have you believe. This book is for you.


Around the Web


The Creative Shift

How Place + Technology + People Can Help Solve 21st Century Problems



In short: how creativity is invading the workplace, how to be more intentional about it, and how to encourage more of it. Bonus: ideas for creating new workspaces/creative spaces. And yes, it's basically an extended ad for Steelcase and Microsoft. But it's actually really, really good. (Honestly, if all ads were like this, I don't think 'ad' would be such a dirty word...)


Key Quotes

"Creativity is fundamentally about problem solving. This means it’s difficult, iterative and messy – an often nebulous exploration of unknowns. It also means creative work is intensely demanding – physically, cognitively and emotionally. Just one type of solution can’t support the range of people’s needs."

"..we’re coming to work because it’s where we share, collaborate and build on each other’s ideas."

Just for fun:

Since we're talking about systems, I thought I'd offer a little blast from the past. In high school, I spent entirely too much time watching Homestar Runner videos. Pre-Netflix, pre-YouTube, pre-Facebook, this was what my friend-group connected around.

So, from 2003, here is what to do when the System is Down.

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