Founder, author, speaker

Welcome to this week's brain food. These aim to be short and easy to digest pieces that enrich your work and life with simple ideas and principles.

Time can't be earned. Only spent. Use it wisely.

2023 year progress: 15% complete

Today in a nutshell

  • Exploring focused communication and collaboration
  • Using AI to generate user interface designs
  • Facts about the toughness of our teeth

Focused communication

Things that should be immediate small actions end up morphing into long-winded series of meetings. Everyone throwing in an opinion, and many possibilities being built up in our heads. The entire endeavor ends up feeling like mammoth tasks that need to be perfect. This is the effect of having too many people involved.

As the number of people involved in making a decision increases, the number of lines of communication also increases exponentially, and so, the alignment in everyone's mental models becomes more difficult to maintain. To solve this, we could discourage certain people talking to each other. Although logical, this is destructive to team cohesion and ultimately achieving the goal.

A better answer is to reduce the number of people involved. Only include those that are essential, and make sure that collaboration is more effective than simply arranging unstructured meetings. This means that leaders or anyone spearheading collaboration must put in a little more effort, pick the right people, and run effective collaboration sessions.

Let's think about how we spend time in the workplace.

  • Executing on deliverables: Everything comes down to action. Without action, no real value can be created. Does a decision-maker at a car manufacturer stop concerning themselves with the production of  cars while they design the cup holders for the new model? This example is a bit wild, but the reality is that people are responsible for execution of some or other function. This is usually where the most work satisfaction comes from, and that's because it's directly valuable to the goal. Unfortunately, only half of people's time get spent on delivering value. The rest is consumed by collaboration, and the associated "head space fog".
  • Preparing for meetings and collaboration: Seasoned and confident people usually need little to no preparation for collaboration. For the rest, time, thinking, and planning are needed to feel confident and ensure that everyone can contribute to collaboration (Even when the collaboration isn't needed).
  • Actually meeting and collaborating: Meetings, workshops, and desk-side discussions take up chunks of time. Although these are crucial for ideating, understanding perspectives, reporting in on metrics, and creating a sense of team; many fall into the trap of making every decision a group decision. This drages things out, creating inaction and frustration. Collaboration should be crisp, meaningful, and end with clear actionable next steps. Most end with confusion, and plans to have another meeting about the meeting.
  • Communicating: Texting, emails, and impromptu video calls. These take up time and head space. Many of these are an outcome of ineffective collaboration. And a mismatch in mental models and understanding between people. Furthermore, text communication can create even greater confusion given the nature of the format.

With more lines of communication comes a bigger undertaking to create alignment between the group and operate effectively. Pick the right people, and plan collaboration to maximise the collective time spent. Let's reduce head space fog and focus on what's important.

How would you apply this to save time, head space, and promote action?

  1. Only include the essential people
  2. Run effective collaborative sessions
  3. Make actions clear, real, and do-able immediately

With learnings from running over a decade of collaborative sessions, we're building to help anyone be a better leader in collaboration.

AI dashboards

Designing digital products means designing unique and useful user interfaces. We're currently working on a platform for oversight on aircraft, flight statistics, and pilot performance, and needed to think about ideas for the UI and UX.

We can use AI to ideate a myriad of options of what a dashboard could look like by using a design that we created as a reference for style and colour schemes. Here's the reference design:

And here are some options generated by Midjourney (An image generation AI). You'll notice that the AI model doesn't quite understand text content. But these are great starting points for the layout, information architecture, and aesthetic of the dashboard.

Would you use these as a reference to develop a dashboard in your world? Would you get a human designer to create something more "unique"? Instead of seeing AI as a replacement of human functions, we can rather see it as an augmentation and partner to people. We need divergence in ideas, but convergence in execution.

If you're interested in aviation, check out Gaggle.

Fighting tooth and nail

Teeth are almost immortal. Ironically, it's only when you use them that they decay. Take care of your teeth!

Download the full "Ideas everyone should know" eBook here.

I hope you enjoyed and was enriched by this edition!

If you haven't read the previous edition on Speaking last, you can find it here.

Try my apps

I'm dedicated to building solutions that make people more productive and happy. I'd love it if you tried my apps, and appreciate any feedback you have! You can email me.

Interacts:  A remote and hybrid collaboration tool for engaging workshops, retrospectives, team building and more –

FancyGPT: A Chrome extension to save and share beautiful ChatGPT snippets as images, searchable PDFs, and text files –

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