#113 - 14 May 2022
Communication is not collaboration; Opening up onboarding documents
Communication is not Collaboration - Matt Schellhas
Schellhas decries the tendency to assume that if groups aren’t working together, it’s because of a lack of communication, and so the solution is some joint meeting to keep each other informed (this can go even worse, and become… shudder … joint social activities). But communicate is not collaboration, and so more communication doesn’t necessarily lead to more collaboration.
To get two teams working together, Schellhas says, is not significantly different than getting one team working together:
Build enough psychological safety so that people can try something new, like trusting that other group
Back up those expectations
Provide constant feedback
and those actions don’t have to come from managers (although that does make it easier).
Weecology’s Wiki - Weecology lab, U Florida
Ethan White and his group made their joint lab wiki openly accessible, as a resource to others but also for people considering joining the group as grad students, etc.
We’ve mentioned onboarding materials and candidate packets many times in the past, and making these resources openly available is extremely valuable, in getting candidates (or collaborators, or clients) interested in the work of your group, for building a shared team understanding of the work, its impact, and how to bring people on board, and more. Having it as a wiki, and so readily updatable, is very helpful.
Note that this isn’t a “if you build it, they [the content] will come” sort of deal:
“Did you check the wiki?” “What’s missing from the wiki?” “OK, now that we’ve talked through how to do that can you write up that advice on the wiki?” “Nice solution! Add it to the wiki!”
It takes a lot of effort to making putting the material there and updating it the default behaviour of the team. But once it’s there, there’s a lot of uses it can be put to, and making it open for candidates and others to see is one of them.
Managing Your Own Career
A love letter to LFTM - Angélique Weger
We’ve had a couple articles here in the last couple of weeks about the need for more than one kind of document format than just a to-do list to keep track of the different things a manager needs to keep track of. The Low Friction Task Manager (lftm) is one such (github-friendly) system, and here Weger confirms the advantages claimed by the system:
Answers the question of ‘what do I do next?’, which is the ultimate productivity killer.
Keeps my working memory uncluttered.
Keeps me from um’ing during my daily standups. I always know what I worked on yesterday.
Is a handy record of accomplishments that I can reference when it’s time for my review, I want to ask for a raise, or I’m updating my resume.
Provides a reminder that I do, in fact, get things done and that I don’t, in fact, suck at my job.
And then describes her takes on it (adding Markdown, and re-ordering things). The system has folders for notes on 1-1s, other meetings, general notes, and projects, each with a template, and then running journals where things like to do lists are kept and archived, with scripts to keep things up to date.
As always, the best system is one that works for you, and that may change over time.
You know how you’ve wanted Wifi and bluetooth on your Apple II? You’re in luck.
Setting up and exploring gopher in 2022. I’ll remind you all that in 1994 I was mortally certain that the web was a fad and Gopher was where things were going, so do keep that in mind when deciding how much weight to give my opinions on technology.
COLR, a font format that includes colours for fonts with letters that intrinsically are coloured with multiple colours. The last 15 years of the internet has proven that we will always use new technologies wisely and with restraint, so I’m sure this will turn out fine.
Uncertainty propagation for the masses - guesstimate lets you give the range of input values and compute expected output values. This is the sort of thing we know how to do in science and sort of forget to apply in the rest of our lives. The results are more useful than you’d think!
The history of the Intel Hypercube, one of the first commercial multiprocessing systems, and (in posts coming soon) its influence on matlab and technical computing. The first parallel computer I ever used was the Paragon, an immediate descendent of this machine.
And that’s it for another week. Let me know what you thought, or if you have anything you’d like to share about the newsletter or management. Just email me or reply to this newsletter if you get it in your inbox.
Have a great weekend, and good luck in the coming week with your team,