#54 Old guards - new guards, laws of simplicity, disregard the words
Learning from Tobi Lütke, Sam Manekshaw, John Cutler and more
The Knowledge Project podcast with Tobi Lütke covered an exciting set of topics. I covered "Trust battery" a couple of weeks back. Here're his thoughts on processes:
There are three kinds of processes. There’s a kind of process that makes things that were previously impossible to do, possible. That’s good. Then there’s a kind of process that makes something that was previously possible significantly simpler, which is also good. And then there’s everything else. I bet you 99.9% of all process that exists in corporate America is the third category, which is actually just telling people to behave slightly different from what common sense tells them to do.
The first two are unarguably easy to accept. The third kind comes with the biggest friction both in accepting & doing. The difference between them & the first two is that the 'why' is not very clear.
For a lot of tasks, we tend to accept the current way of doing things to be 'ok' and thus never look for a better way to do them. This inertia & ignorance leads to questions whenever one tries to make any new changes. If it's working, then why change? Such processes suffer If they don't establish a clear why and show the potential benefits.
Next time you want to design a process, do think about which type of process you are building!
And with that, let’s move to the interesting reads for today.
1. Old Guard, New Guard
I've bookmarked John Cutler's latest post “Old Guard, New Guard” for a constant dose of reality check.
It highlights the contrast in approach of the established and the newbie. Every observation hits the chord. I have played both the acts. Sometimes, even in the same role. This post helps appreciate the difference in the two approaches.
On the surface, "new guard" sounds like a better promise. But the more you will think, it's not the "new guard" but her ability to shake & churn 'new' that makes all the difference. The shake & churn is the interaction between the 'old' and 'new'. The awareness of difference in approach makes the collaboration more fruitful.
What do you think?
2. Laws of Simplicity
Another one from Farnam Street today. “Laws of Simplicity” shares key takeaways from John Maeda’s book by the same name. Here’s a quick snapshot of Ten laws that Maeda has covered in the book.
The post shares many snippets from the book to further expand these ideas. I’m excited to read and learn more. For now, adding this book to my wish-list. If you read it before me, do share your notes.
3. Disregard the Words
You can almost feel their internal struggle with language—the search for the right words. How can you describe something that is genuinely novel? What happens when something is so fundamentally different that it fails our shared vocabulary?
That’s the premise of this post by Josh Miller. Blackberry, iPhone, Snapchat, Notion - they all faced this challenge around describing themselves. He suggests that if the product is novel & exciting, you should just ignore the urge to explain it all. They will get it if the product truly delivers to its promise.
For something truly novel, you have the permission to “disregard the words” and just build what feels exciting.
4. Magic of Pasoori
Have you heard "Pasoori" from Coke Studio Season 14? If you haven't, you know what to do.
I discovered it from a The New Yorker post about its origin & how it became popular globally. This is a fascinating story for an artist and his song.
“Pasoori” is a nice song, I've played it plenty of times since I have heard it. And I can see myself playing it on a loop for some more days. But this story made it more exciting.
Even the music video has details that I did not notice earlier (it looked cool, but that's it). But after reading, the dots connected more and it went from cool to wow!
There is so much that is behind the scene in most creations. These back stories and BTS have the power to take the experience of such products to a whole new level. How do you do it effectively without becoming self-indulging & boastful of your creation.
On a side note, Coke Studio Season 14 has some more amazing songs. "Phir Milenge" is another song playing in a loop on my Youtube. It's got a great video as well and adds a lot to the feel for the rap portions.
Finally, when we are on Coke Studio, I've to share my all time favourite "Jal Pari" by Atif Aslam. What a song! I love every bit of it and that smile! IYKYK ;)
5. Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
If you refer to the original title “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”, you might not recollect this. You mostly know it as “Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)”.
I first read this almost a decade back. And wished I had experienced such a ‘graduation speech’. Would have been so cool! Unfortunately, we hardly do cool graduation speeches in India. I have watched and read about a few of those from universities abroad, but nothing back home has connected the chords as well. If you know of any, do share.
Thank you Substack’s weekly post for reminding me of “Wear sunscreen”. Loved their creativity in summarising their lessons for writers in the format inspired by the “Wear sunscreen” post.
6. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on Leadership
We have to thank Ranga for today’s “Reader's (web) world view”. He has been a great mentor & supporter for this newsletter. His prompt feedback and inputs have been very useful. He had shared this video with me almost 7 months back. I should have shared with you folks much earlier.
Thank you Ranga! And now over to you recommendation.
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw did this lecture as part of the leadership lecture series at St Xavier’s college. Here’s how he defined the attributes of leadership in this session:
Professional knowledge and professional competency
Ability to make up your mind and make a decision. And accepting full responsibility for it. If you must be a bloody fool, be one quickly
Absolute justice and impartiality
Moral and physical courage
Loyalty - as a two way thing
He is his usual best - sharp and witty. You must watch this video to experience his charisma.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Instagram: Charlie Mackesy’s instagram feed (@charliemackesy) expands the magic storytelling he had put in “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse”. Thanks Rahul & Ruchi for introducing this feed to me.
Instagram: Andrea Love (@andreaanimates) is a stop motion animator & fiber artist. Her detailing is mind boggling.
Web: 28 of the Best Riddles that will test your intelligence to the limits. Simple riddles (that Saanvi and I usually challenge each other with) but with a clickbaity title & found on Medium.
Web: Tone Knob on CIA’s new tone of voice. I never imagined an agency like the CIA having such focused effort for changes in their communication style. And that some expert is actually watching such changes and writing a post on that.
Web: A quick summary of Prof Solomon’s “How to find lost objects”. 13 rules to rule them all, you know most still don’t follow.
Before we sign off, here’s some food for thought. Not only great software, but great products and people in general are opinionated.
That's all for this week, folks!
If you enjoyed this post, show your love by commenting and liking it. I write this newsletter to share what I learnt from others. If you learnt something from this today, why not share it with a couple of your friends to continue this chain?