Do books read?

I love reading science fiction and fantasy books! This blog combines two of my biggest interests; reading fiction and thinking about collaboration, learning and adapting to change. I’m Marcus Degerman and I work at Incredible mess as an organizational developer, I also love reading science fiction and fantasy books. The quotes that I like or made me think ends up on this blog with some thoughts.

Are you better or better?

There, as he leveled out his ship and sucked in cold gasps of oxygen, he was struck by a revelation: He was a better flier than Yrica Quell. But she was the better starfighter pilot.

Shadow fall by Alexander Freed

Just because you are great at a certain skill does not mean that you will be the best at getting the job done. Today, being great at one thing is not enough, we need many more skills to be successful in our work. We often look for the person who is the best at what they do, when we instead should search for the people who is best at applying their skill together with other people.

In this complex and messy world that we live and worked in today, we will never be able to create something meaningful by ourselves.

Can do vs want to do

The rotten thing about having Mum as a mum is, I know how to stop being angry. I’ve been taught any number of ways to manage anger, and they really work. What she’s never been able to teach me is how to want to manage it. So I go on seething and raging and knowing the whole time that it’s my own fault, because I do know how to stop.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

When we want to change behaviors, we need to consider both if people want it, and if they have the ability to do it. Just because we can do it, we might not want to do it. Or in other cases we are highly motivated to change but we don’t know how, or we don’t have the resources. BJ Fogg has created an extremely simple and useful model for understanding and talking about behavior change. He says that behavior change comes from motivation, ability, and prompts. And if any of them are lacking we will not get the new behavior.

What I have seen in most organizations that I have worked with, is that in most cases what we lack is ability and prompts. Most people want to change their way of working or how they act, they just don’t have the skills, time, nor resources to do it.

Freedom in failure

Wu Ying gulped, realizing he was walking along the cliff’s edge of failure. Yet, perhaps the knowledge he was likely going to fail freed him. Knowing he would fail meant he had nothing to lose, and the fear of failure disappeared. There was no fear in certainty—just freedom.

A thousand Li: The first stop by Tao Wong

One of the key factors in psychological safety is that it is ok to fail, and this is also a reason that agile has become so popular. It is a way to break big projects down in small chunks where it is ok to fail each part, but in the end, you have created something bigger.

I think one of the worst things you can end up in is the organization’s most important project that must not fail. Then the stress kicks in, the worry increases. And then flexibility, innovation and creativity disappear.

I have given some presentations around the analogy between skateboarding and working in an organization. When you practice skateboarding you fall a lot. More often you jump off the skateboard when you realise that a trick will not work. But you rarely hurt yourself. Because you know how to judge if something will not work, and you have practiced falling.

Good managers need to train themselves and their teams how to jump off when things are not going to plan and how to fall without hurting themselves and the organization.

How we see others

Red eyes moved to his, and she gave him a shaky smile. He couldn’t return it. He stared into her, thinking about how she saw him. He wasn’t as great as she described. But he wanted to be. She saw through him, and her smile became more genuine.

Bloodline, Will Wight

Sometimes you are in a situation where you feel pressured to do more, to push forward, and spend too much energy. In other situations, you want to do more, you feel a drive to improve, and when you spend your energy, you feel energized. It is all about how people look at us, do they think we can do it or not.

There is a difference in how you motivate others to do better.: You either do it from a point of power, pushing the other people forward, or you do it from the position in the quote; that they feel that you believe in them, trust them and care about them.

It has been a long pause from writing in this blog now, and I have no idea how much energy I have now for this, but I have a craving to start writing again and this feels like a safe place where I can write what pops into my head, and the texts are also short so that I can turn this into a tiny habit to explore. Let’s see what happens.

Same reality different views


There is but one reality; that is true—but the two of you experience it in slightly different ways.

-The Cinder Spires by Jim Butcher

Based on your experiences, goals, and personality you will experience the world in a different way than all other people you meet. The difference might be really small or very big. But we all focus on, see, and remember different things. This will cause a lot of conflicts and frustrations. But it will also create amazing solutions, make us learn new things and see problems in a different way.

We often need the similarities to start collaborating and getting to know one another. Then we need the differences to creates something unique.


The balance between boring and pushing

“Well, in his experience, soldiers spent little time doing soldier things. They instead spent ages walking places, waiting around, or—in his case—getting yelled at for walking around or waiting in the wrong places.”

-Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

I think most jobs are like this. We rarely push our skills to their limits, and we spend most of the time at work doing routine stuff. This can be boring but it can also be used to replenish our energy and improve ourselves. It is not sustainable to always be on our toes, always creating, and always stressed. The challenge comes when we spend too much time in the routine or too much fun stuff that pushes our limits. One leads to stagnation and the other leads to burnout.

You can’t compare sports to normal work but if you look at elite athletes they spend at lest 90% of their time practicing and 10% competing. I admire their commitment, willpower and grit. Their amazing achievements comes from spending so much time training for one thing.

It would be very expensive for everyone to practice the same way in most organizations. But I think most companies need to focus more on making sure everyone learns and develops more during everyday activities and continues to push themselves to become better at their jobs.

Can scarcity help?

There has never been a military in the entire history of the human race that has gone to war equipped with more than the least that it needs to fight its enemy. War is expensive. It costs money and it costs lives and no civilization has an infinite amount of either. So when you fight, you conserve. You use and equip only as much as you have to, never more.

– Old Man’s war by John Scalzi

An organization will need trained people, resources, equipment, and support to succeed.

The question is:

  • Do you want the best people?
  • Do you need as much time and money as possible?
  • Do you need the best equipment?
  • Do you need all the help you can get?

Or can scarcity increase creativity and help people focus on what is really important?

One step will not change behaviors

“She crouched in a dim room, hands touching the smooth stone floor, which had been eroded by thousands upon thousands of footfalls. If stone met a man, stone might win—but if stone met humanity, then no force could preserve it.”

–Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

One small change will rarely make a difference when trying to change behaviors in an organization. It takes focused and continuous action towards a clear goal to make a real change. That is why Big Bang changes rarely work. It is the small steps that happen daily that shows the people in an organization what behaviors you are promoting.

Facts are not enough

“She had seen her home distilled into a sterile list of facts. Each was individually true, but the list conveyed nothing of what it sounded like when a flock of ravens wheeled into the sky…”

–Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Many people wants to make decisions just based on facts, believing that they are objective and rational human beings. Even if you create the most objective and rational decision making process. A subjective human being has created the process and chosen the facts to look at.

The other problem with just looking at data points is that you miss the context they are created in. Data points can’t be interpreted without connections and stories. And stories without data can be unreliable.

This is the difference between Big data and Thick data: Big data, gives us a lot of data and facts. Thick data will instead gives us the context and the stories. Both are needed.