Proper Boredom and Innovation Problems

Productivity Advice (Zero Credibility)

  • The only credible advice to be productive is to work without interruptions. Optimizations of various kinds (todo lists, schedules, time tracking, analytics, etc.) are distractions and should be ignored.

  • Work is hard and people would do anything to avoid it. More tools simply mean less productive time.

  • Startups are about talking to users, writing code and recruiting people, not watching YouTube videos on how startups are hard [MK: and how growth can be hacked].

  • Work is just that – work. It can be documented, but the way of documenting it shouldn’t be documented (it’s a waste of time).

  • Work is the most productive alternative to boredom. [MK: Love it!] But what if you’re consistently overwhelmed with instant gratification – movies, TV series, memes, funny cats? Constant entertainment makes work shallow and unproductive.


The Problem of Innovation (Aaron M Renn)

The Tyranny of an Org Chart

  • Assumption: people hire consultants because consultants are very smart. Also, hiring ex-consultants for in-house roles will make a difference.

  • Reality: In a corporation everyone sits in their box within the social structure with more or less prescribed communication lines. Consultants exist outside the org chart and hence can have their own comm lines. Their status is deliberately vague (a "partner" is just a middle manager), but they can reach the top management.

  • Consultants are hated by the middle management because often all they do is interview the middle managers, summarize and feed the top management with the same information maybe sprinkled with a few consulting insights. But the core problem is that there's no way middle managers (who come up with most ideas) can get heard by the top management, thus ensuring that innovation will never happen. I.e. the tyranny of an org chart.

    This veil is the "fog of war" for newcomers who haven't got the stigma of "we know who you're not". This asymmetry of information blocks people with ideas from reaching to the top management (who's usually quite receptive to new ideas and intellectual challenges) as they worry about their jobs and backlash from the "deep state" (i.e. middle managers preferring status quo to action) in the firm.

The "Play it Safe" mentality

  • People (at least publicly) prefer risk-free options vs unproven ones (but potentially better on many levels). It can relate to purchases (things) and opinions (people). Mimicking each other is what we all do.

  • A challenge is finding and nurturing new innovators (this applies to firms and cities), not so much celebrating successes of already accomplished people.

The people who can do it

  • MK: I always say that I love boring things, because there's a huge line of people who want to be doing sexy things, but there's almost no one who wants (or is able to) make things happen.

  • The real innovators are not the ones who come up with better ideas, but those who know org theory, politics, sales, etc. - all to make sure the innovation sees the light of day instead of being buried in bureaucracy.

  • Thus, the culture of innovation is less about the number of ideas employees generate, but rather about having the fertile ground for the ideas that get generated so that they can be voiced, assessed and possibly implemented.