Weekly Notes #4

Andy Tabberer
3 min readJun 14, 2019

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Despite the limiting factor of time, I’ve managed to fire off an adequate set of notes. Less exuberance, more substance?

Read on, dear reader, read on, for you make me whole…

Boiled Frog Syndrome -

Last week it was the Cobra Effect, this week’s animal in the spotlight is the humble frog aka Boiled Frog Syndrome. The story goes, if you toss a frog into boiling water it would hop out sharpish like. If you, however, place the frog in tepid water and boil it slowly the frog won’t notice until it is too late. Think of it as a metaphor to describe circumstances where we unwittingly accept a dangerous situation because we don’t notice or sense the gradual change over time. This made me think of toxic cultures and how they are formed in the workplace. You cannot remember when toxic behaviour was normalised because it happened over a long period of time. Well, at least I have a name for it now :)

Have you been that frog in the saucepan? Did you hop out?

Ps. what is it with Frogs and business fables? If we’re not boiling them, we’re eating them first!

It’s good to talk -

This week reaffirmed my view that if you need to have a difficult conversation then it’s good, nay, better to talk. More and more people seem to favour written communication at work — whether IMs or email — which just seems to lend itself to confusion and entrenchment when things get difficult. So I say unto you, if you think that your message might be taken out of context or it risks knocking a relationship out of kilter, take a deep breathe and make that call. Even better, meet people face-to-face if you can.

When was the last time you had a difficult conversation? How did you feel afterwards?

Ps. there seems to be a direct correlation between money, delays and difficult conversations in my world…how about yours?

What I’ve been reading -

I’ve just finished Donella H. Meadows — Thinking in Systems: A Primer.

Here’s Donella (above) with her towering intellect flickering behind her ready smile. Another great photo I think. Nice use of the blurred effect as you asked.

This book has and continues to have a profound effect on me. I recognise system archetypes I’ve orbited or been part of, in the present and the past. It’s not always pleasant reading but it is enlightening. Her words on the ‘drift to low performance’ archetype have helped with handle personal bad news and cope with the more general eroding of the goal of morality we are experiencing both here and across the Pond. I guess there’s a bit of the ‘Escalation’ archetype involved here with the current political situation, too, leading to smear campaigns and in-the-gutter political point-scoring.

But, I digress…

The most important lesson of this week has been the realisation that missing information flows is probably the most common cause of system malfunction in the Digital Agency world. How often do we water-down, obfuscate or suppress important information because how it will be received is more important than the information itself? This allows people to swerve the consequences of their actions and decisions and keeps up the pretence that everything is ok. We all know where that leads…

What important but overlooked or ignored information would you provide or restore to folk? How would you make that compelling?

Note taking -

I’m trying out a new way of managing my work notes courtesy of @thekieran. He’s the poetry-writing, UFC-fighting, system-thinking Scots DPM explaining the method in his own words:

“When you start a new notebook, reserve the first 3 pages for a contents page. Then number each page after that, just a little number in the bottom corner will do. The only extra work after that is titling and dating your notes and adding them to the contents page once a day.”

Do you using a notebook method you’d be willing to share? Did you manage to keep it up for long?

Right, time to do one. I am going out for Tacos and beer this very evening, where my friend and I shall be masters of all we survey :)

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Andy Tabberer

I'm curious about quality, systems and people. Proud to be a Principal DM at Coop Digital ❤️