There’s a bit of a habit bandwagon on the move at the moment, with a rash of books, software apps, and so forth all helping us to understand the Trigger->Action->Reward structure of habitual behaviours, and how to use that understanding to build our own positive habits. In Verilab’s client work, and beyond that to other SMEs with whom I work, however, I’ve noticed what appears to be, in the group environment and even overall organization, a strong analog of habits in the individual person. I dislike gratuitous creation of neologisms, so I’ve looked for a phrase to denote this phenomenon, but haven’t been able to find one. So I’m naming it now. I’m calling it “Organizational Habituation”. Continue reading
Continuing with the theme of the need for sustained focus in achieving mastery, Freeman Dyson’s recent review of Ray Monk’s new biography of Oppenheimer contains an interesting and somewhat sad snippet about the influential Los Alamos lab leader’s relative achievements in science versus bomb-making administration: Continue reading
Finding the following very interesting: “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work“, by Mason Curry.
It’s a review of over 150 writers, painters, scientists, and so on, as to the daily habits and rituals surrounding their accomplishments. Most obvious first impression is that there seem to be as many approaches to creativity and productivity as there are individuals studied. There are highly disciplined people, and severe procrastinators; organized, and messy; laid back, and intense; healthy/ascetic, and hedonistic to the point of debaucherous, well-nigh alcoholic, drug guzzling, gluttony. However, I think that apparent variety hides a common factor; namely they all found their individual way of doing things, and to hell with convention.
It feeds a growing feeling I’ve had recently that I’m on the scent of something to do with the damage done, in recent decades, by the professionalization or at least the standardization of doing pretty much anything. Prime examples: the “9 to 5 office job”, the broadening out of University-level education, certification for pretty much anything you want to get certified for. The people Mason analyzes — the first bunch anyway, which is as far as I’ve got — all seem to more or less ignore the “standard” way of doing things. Or, rather, it may simply be there were fewer “standard ways” around when they were doing their stuff, but the effect is the same.
In my work running Verilab, I collect what I call“Proxies for Greatness”, being observable characteristics of an engineer that indicate I may be in the presence of someone very high up on the effectiveness bell curve. Perhaps “Healthy Disregard For Conventional Approaches” is another such Proxy for Greatness.