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The Filament Blog


We all suffer from a profound case of “Idea Surplus Disorder” at Filament — and we think that’s a good thing. Here are some of those ideas we’d like to share with you.



The Monday Morning Meeting #69


Welcome to another edition of the Monday Morning Meeting: your weekly collection of Filament news, tools you can use, and interesting ideas that will help you think differently about your week ahead.


Last week on Twitter, I shared a rant about “talking-head” innovation conferences:

Can we stop talking about innovation and do some of it? If you need to be inspired to innovate, by all means, go to a conference. If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, do hours of powerpoint presentations really give you the kick in the pants you need?

How much better would your "innovation" conference feel if you built it around insight discovery instead of information delivery? Imagine centering your attendees' energies on collaborative co-creation while substituting days of conversations for days of presentations. Curate a list of 10-20 TED talks, books, magazine articles, and blog posts that you tell your attendees to read before they arrive. Then dig in. Do work. Share and collaborate. And if you must have presentations, save them for the end of your event, to be delivered by your attendees as they share the things they learned and the projects they're about to kick off with their new-found collaborations.

But, but, but ... some people won't show up to a creative, problem-solving conference without a promise of speakers. Good! The people who demand an agenda filled with presentations given by the usual suspects aren't innovators anyway. That doesn't mean there isn't room for thoughtful sharing of new ideas and lessons-learned by and from people who've "been there/done that," but if the speakers are the only ones guaranteed an opportunity to share their ideas, you've built nothing more than an innovation theater with "actors" on stage reading their lines to an audience who's capacity to innovate matters less than their ability to pay to attend.

Also, if you’d like to build a better online bio, you might learn a bit from this Venn diagram.


Novelist Cormac McCarthy also edits scientific papers, but this advice for writers is appropriate for nearly everyone:

Use minimalism to achieve clarity. While you are writing, ask yourself: is it possible to preserve my original message without that punctuation mark, that word, that sentence, that paragraph or that section? Remove extra words or commas whenever you can.

Inject questions and less-formal language to break up tone and maintain a friendly feeling. Colloquial expressions can be good for this, but they shouldn’t be too narrowly tied to a region. Similarly, use a personal tone because it can help to engage a reader. Impersonal, passive text doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you’re being objective: “Earth is the centre of this Solar System” isn’t any more objective or factual than “We are at the centre of our Solar System.”

Finally, try to write the best version of your paper: the one that you like. You can’t please an anonymous reader, but you should be able to please yourself. Your paper — you hope — is for posterity. Remember how you first read the papers that inspired you while you enjoy the process of writing your own.

Sound advice for building a better meeting culture from Al Pittampalli:

If you don't receive an action plan from the meeting I invited you to attend, you have every right not to attend my next one. Part of the obligation of the Modern Meeting is that if you want attendance, you must reciprocate with an action plan. That plan should include at least the following: What actions are we committing to? Who is responsible for each action? When will those actions be completed?

Want to pay better attention, pay less attention to other things because your brain uses filters, not spotlights:

The attentional searchlight metaphor was backward: The brain wasn’t brightening the light on stimuli of interest; it was lowering the lights on everything else.

A necessary reminder fo all of us to remember from time to time: We are all confident idiots:

For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack….

Because of the way we are built, and because of the way we learn from our environment, we are all engines of misbelief. And the better we understand how our wonderful yet kludge-ridden, Rube Goldberg engine works, the better we—as individuals and as a society—can harness it to navigate toward a more objective understanding of the truth.

The writers really reached for their acronym, but I personally like FAST goals better than SMART ones.

Goals should be embedded in frequent discussions; ambitious in scope; measured by specific metrics and milestones; and transparent for everyone in the organization to see.

I can’t wait to use the OneLook Thesaurus more. It “lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be anything at all: a single word, a few words, or even a whole sentence.”

This chart should be in every single grocery store near the apples.

After looking at these pictures, I wonder if we need a chalkboard somewhere at Filament (and a mathematician).

This is good news for Filament: The ideal age to start a business is much older than you think!

Smile more, it is better for everybody.


"It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent — lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It's as simple as that." — Tove Jansson

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.” — James P Carse

”One becomes weary only of what is new” — Soren Kierkgaard

”People know what they want because they know what other people want.” — Theodor Adorno


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