Discover more from Prodity: Product Thinking
Underpants Gnomes, Chess Cheating, and The Laws of Creativity
Monthly Wrap from October
Another month, another host of great articles, listens, books and other finds from Product Thinking and around the internet. Here’s what you may have missed.
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Commitments and quarterly planning has been on my mind (more to come on that soon). I explored one aspect of that in this post.
I initially balked at the idea that sales and product/engineering should be treated the same. Then I realized that it is exactly what we are always asking for. We want the focus to be on the impact, not on the features. So let’s keep moving that direction, getting away from the wrong commitments and getting better about making the right type of commitments.
In a recent podcast, Brenden from MasterTalk and I explored this idea—preparing for future questions—along with many others. It was a really good conversation and I explored the idea more in this post.
The more thought we put in ahead of time, the more thoughtful and prepared we can be. I’ve long been of the opinion that no one is great at “thinking on their feet” as we like to say. Rather, some people have simply put more thought in ahead of time and can draw on that preparation more than others.
If you are like me, so much of the work you do, and the work your team does, is invisible to most outside observers. You may understand what you’re working on, and your team likely understands it as well. But as soon as you move outside of the inner circle, the work becomes opaque. Move further away, it becomes a black box that outsiders peer into, but can’t discern what is happening.
This is often the source of immense conflict and consternation. Which is why this month I reviewed the book Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow by Dominica DeGrandis.
I’ve been extremely interested in the saga around cheating in chess. As part of my work in online assessments for higher education, detecting cheating was a big part of the role. And we were very sophisticated at it. I suspect (especially after reading more about Chess.com and other chess tournaments) that they are also very sophisticated, understanding the types of moves or behaviors that would be most likely for cheaters to make and thus raise alarms, which is similar to what we did.
So this will be fascinating to watch more.
HOW EXACTLY WOULD someone cheat during a chess game? While there is speculation about the possible use of high-tech gadgets such as this one, or the use of a small vibrating device as was alleged in the case of Borislav Ivanov (who was suspected of hiding a device in his shoe), the most common form of cheating in tournaments is much less glamorous: the use of cell phones in bathrooms.
We discussed creativity at length in a podcast episode below, so this article was interesting to me. Creativity really is for everyone, and the idea that it is for a select few or only for the “disturbed” or “creative geniuses” is incorrect, as the article points out.
“There is a grain of truth to the notion that creativity and mental illness are related, but the truth is much more nuanced—and we think interesting—than the more romanticized notions of the link.”
“Individuals holding creative professions had a significantly reduced likelihood of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, or of committing suicide.”
The Laws of Creativity - With Author and Founder Joey Cofone
Creativity is not just for the professionals or the “creatives”. It is for everyone and is about the practice of ideas. More specifically, combining unrelated and abstract ideas in new ways. And it is so important. Not just because we need to solve problems, but because those who apply creative thinking get paid more and are nearly 300% happier at work.
In this episode, we discuss everything from video games and storytelling to art school and rediscovering your creativity. We dive into Joey’s book, the inspiration for the 39 laws, how we can apply and use them, and so much more.
Tips for Public Speaking, Presenting, & Communicating - With Brenden Kumarasamy
Speaking and communicating well is critical for all of us. So how can we improve? In this episode, Brenden from MasterTalk joins us to discuss public speaking, presenting, and communicating better. We discuss overcoming your barriers and finding your motivation to become a better communicator at work and in life. We also discuss applying the “easy three” tips for improving your public speaking. You won't want to miss this one!
As I mentioned last month, we have been preparing to go to Italy. I’ll be writing about our trip as soon as we’re back (lots of ideas stewing). But this book was incredible. I did not realize the depth of history behind each city-state and how the conflicts and culture shaped so much of the history. I’m sure this was just the smallest taste as well, but very worth the overview.
This comprehensive portrait of Italian history opens an exciting new world-a grand mosaic of lustrous and storied cultures as distinctive as the people who helped build them. As you come to know these many "Italys," you'll see how the Italian states defined themselves against the others, competing for territory, trade, and artistic supremacy - and how the vestiges of these interactions are visible even today.
We’ll end this week with an interesting discussion on soccer. I haven’t watched Welcome to Wrexham yet, but plan to. Part of me thinks it looks cheesy and partly contrived, but part of me has been continually intrigued, especially as a lifelong soccer fan (or football fan for anyone outside of the US). I’d love to see Wrexham get promoted all the way up to the Premier League, or at least make a good FA Cup run in the meantime. Who knows, maybe they can even pull a Leicester City 2016 against all the odds.
Without consulting his wife, Reynolds said yes to McElhenney’s scheme. Both men were in their mid-40s, if not quite in midlife crisis, as McElhenney put it, then at moments of "midlife inflection." For years, Wrexham had been stuck in a scrappy, hard-to-escape league that was five rungs below the Premier League. In a giddy dream scenario, by securing back-to-back-to-back-to-back promotions, Reynolds and McElhenney might get Wrexham all the way to the top by 2025.