What do they remind you of?

“There’s the opposite of love at first sight. There are people walking the earth that the moment you meet them, you want to punch them and keep punching them.”

– Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim

Some people we get along with directly and others we just want to punch the moment we meet them. The people you like and the people you don’t like are either really similar to you or your complete opposite.

I think it comes down to that we like people that remind us about our good traits, and we dislike the ones that remind us about our bad traits.

Solving complex problems require a simple organization

A control room was no longer a necessity when even the most complicated of systems could be operated from a simple console, even just a portable one. That Ricard had insisted on a full control room and the executives to staff it demonstrated the usual Inspectorate mindset: that being in charge required inferior ranks to obey you, a precise territory to piss-mark and dominate. And the more important you were, the bigger the office and the larger the staff you had to have, even if neither was strictly necessary.

– Neal Asher, The Departure

Our world becomes more complex and fast all the time, and it forces our organizations to solve complex problems faster. Many organizations try to solve this by implementing more project managers and line managers and have them focus on making things faster. The problem with this approach is that on paper it might become faster but I don’t think you actually solve the real issues. To solve complex problems you need a simple organization where the teams actually working on the problems can make the decisions. To be able to make those decisions and solve the problems the teams need contain all the necessary competencies without becoming too big (3–8 people is optimal).

They also need to be presented with the context of the problem they are working on and the organization’s overall goals in such a way that they understand it. This last part seems to be really difficult for many organizations…

Achievements are all relative

“I could try composing wonderful musical works, or day-long entertainment epics, but what would that do? Give people pleasure? My wiping this table gives me pleasure. And people come to a clean table, which gives them pleasure. And anyway“ – the man laughed – ”people die; stars die; universes die. What is any achievement, however great it was, once time itself is dead? Of course, if all I did was wipe tables, then of course it would seem a mean and despicable waste of my huge intellectual potential. But because I choose to do it, it gives me pleasure. And,“ the man said with a smile, ”it’s a good way of meeting people. So where are you from, anyway?”

– Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons

My one year old son took all of my Iain M. Banks books out of the book shelf and spread them out on the floor and it reminded me of all the wonderful books he has written and all the amazing quotes he has there so the next few posts will be filled with them…

When you compare your achievements to the scale of the universe they are all negligible, and if you compare it to the scale of the world most of them are negligible. But small things can make a huge difference, to the people around you and yourself. So instead of aiming to make the most impact as possible for the earth, maybe we should aim to make the most impact to the people around us and ourselves? And then try to be content with that…

The most important thing

“You could find out most things, if you knew the right questions to ask. Even if you didn’t, you could still find out a lot.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games

The important thing is not that you ask the perfect question that will reveal everything or that the person you asked the question completely changes their view of the world. The important thing is that you ask questions, and listens to the answers. Then based on the answer you could ask another question and slowly get to the heart of the matter. Or you could choose to go and ask someone else questions.

The circle of life?

“it had been briefed that when Culture people didn’t speak Marain for a long time and did speak another language, they were liable to change; they acted differently, they started to think in that other language, they lost the carefully balanced interpretative structure of the Culture language, left its subtle shifts of cadence, tone and rhythm behind for, in virtually every case, something much cruder.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games

What we say and how we say it shows who we are and also makes us more of that person. Our brain will focus more on the things we talk about and then we will see more of those things and then we will talk more about them. Is this the circle of life? 🙂

What is perfectly obvious might not be the same thing for everyone there

“Sometimes what goes without saying is best said anyway.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

One of the most common mistakes that I see other people do, and my self quite often as well: It is to end a meeting or a conversation without summing up what was decided upon. It might seem perfectly obvious to you, and it probably is perfectly obvious to all the other people there. The problem is that in many cases what is perfectly obvious might not be the same thing for everyone there.

The two machines

“One should never mistake pattern for meaning.”

– Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

Humans are pattern-seeking machines. We try to find connections everywhere and we will find them even if they are not there. After we find a pattern the story-machine takes over and will immediately create a story to explain the pattern and it will search in your vast memory to find all the evidence that will boost the story and the pattern, and hide away all the evidence that contradicts it. These two machines has created many horrors and wonders.

Do you want to feel more in control or make a difference?

“If you wanted to feel you were still somehow in control of a ship or a fleet or even your civilisation, talking amongst yourselves seemed to be the way you convinced yourself of it.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

The reason most people set up a meeting is to gather more information and to make decisions. The problem is that most people get stuck in gathering more information, either because they are not very good at facilitating that type of discussion or they are really afraid of making a decision. The easiest decision to make is to decide to have another meeting about the topic. Usually we don’t need another meeting to talk. It is much better to make a decision, start working according to it, and decide on a when to meet and evaluate how it is working out.

Practice and experience

There is a certain freedom granted in privacy—a sense of fulfillment and ease that comes with the simple knowledge that no one is watching. It’s why we feel all right about singing in the shower.

– Kevin Hearne, Staked

To sing or give presentations in public gets better with practice and easier with experience. Practice to make us more skilled. And then the experience that people don’t notice or care when we make a mistake in front of them.

Trust is a lot to ask of someone

“Trust is a lot to ask of someone.”

– Gail Carriger, Manners & Mutiny

It’s really interesting who we trust and who we don’t trust. We trust that complete strangers will not run us over with a car when we cross the road, but we don’t trust our co-workers to hand in their reports on time. We trust the company we work for to pay us every month, but not that they have good reasons for the strange decisions they make. We trust that the date stamp on milk is correct but we always check that the eggs are not broken in their carton.

What makes us trust some things and not others?