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Monday Memo #2
Good morning! Andrew here 👋, bringing you thoughts on working. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share with anyone you think would find this useful.
Today I’ve got a roundup of interesting articles for you. Enjoy!
Extract the kernel.
Will Larson is one of my favorite writers about software companies. About communicating with executives:
When you get a question from an executive, focus on understanding the insight or perspective within the question. Then confirm that insight with the executive explicitly.
Now you can ensure that the CTO’s feedback is addressed rather than getting caught up on the incidental details in their question.
Read all of Extract the kernel, it’s a great insight.
I’m trying to apply it to more than just communicating with executives, too. When getting questions or feedback from anyone, what are they really asking, and what’s incidental details?
Users are almost always right
From Chris Siebenmann, on system design:
When the users keep doing it wrong, the users are right and your system is wrong.
I don’t take this to mean that users are always right, or we shouldn’t nudge them to change their behavior.
If the users keep making some error, changing their behavior is going to be very difficult and therefor costly. (In a fight between user inertia and anything else, bet on user inertia.)
This means that changing your system so that what the users are doing is right is simply the easiest way to fix the overall situation.
Read the whole thing at Users are almost always right.
In my experience, this applies much more broadly than just software or UI design.
For example, think about introducing a new process at work. Sometimes it is worth fighting to change behavior. Other times it’s best to meet people where they are. And I guess wisdom is knowing the difference.
How to stare at your phone without losing your soul
From Sim, on using your phone:
Here’s the truth: Screen time doesn’t matter.
It’s not about how much you use your phone. It’s about whether your phone is a needy, attention-sucking vampire.
I can already tell I’m going to like this article. Let’s keep going.
There are better parameters to evaluate quality, not quantity, of the time spent staring at your screens:
Does this app do its job and then politely step aside?
Does it linger in your brain like an awkward party guest at 2:30 A.M. after everyone else already left?
Did I summon this app, or did it summon me via notifications?
Read the whole thing at How to stare at your phone without losing your soul.
This is a different way of thinking about apps on my phone and screen time. Since reading it I’ve evaluated whether apps respect my time, and whether I summon them or they summon me.