The original plan for this edition was to feature a detailed book review that connects up to the building blocks mentioned last week. However, as those who recognise the title as being from the poetry of Robert Burns, things did not go to plan. So it seems like a good moment to talk a little about a complex topic - planning. So what was the plan and what went wrong?
The newsletter fits into some spare time between my coaching work. The schedule of every two weeks usually has enough time to write something thoughtful and then assemble some other elements into a good edition. However, a detailed book review takes a bit more time than usual. An extra factor was my second vaccination. While I couldn't be sure, my reaction to the first injection suggested I might lose some time with side effects. So, it looked like good planning that I was due to have that second dose a couple of days after the last newsletter came out. It might impinge on some work - not ideal before a busy week, but it would leave the following lighter week untouched for (amongst other things) developing the book review.
Then, someone in the family had a positive Covid test and we had to isolate. The logistics of isolation made a busy week even busier, but crucially also meant a delay to my second vaccination to the following weekend. Cue 3 days wiped out with side effects and some re-planning had to take place: Think of something less involved to write about (planning!) and create the book review another time.
So, was the original planning wasted? The best laid plan, thrown out by a random event? On the face of it, yes, but taking the longer view I would argue not for a couple of reasons:
- First, it's only by virtue of thinking about fitting everything in to the original plan that I got early awareness that I might have trouble once the situation changed. If you don't know how close to the edge you are, how do you know when you have to reassess?
- Second, I am fortunate to be able to say (for now!) that my environment is fairly stable. Something happened in this two week period, but across the year, not that many things have happened (or, I hope! will happen) to disrupt things. Thus, if I'm making 26 plans a year, only a couple get upended.
I think that's more than acceptable for the improvements that planning brings in peace of mind and consistent output. If your environment is much more unstable, then the equation may be different. Of course, there is much more to say about planning, so you can be sure we'll come back to it at a later date.
The Pleasures and Perils of the Autodidact
On 27th July at 1900 London Time I will be hosting an Interintellect Salon on this topic. (Ticket price $15),
Most of us in the current historical moment are only part autodidact – we’ve learned many things on our own, but also learned quite a bit from others. At the same time, the growth in communication technologies has created more opportunities than ever before to learn something outside a relationship with a teacher or institution. With that opportunity comes a wider sense of the pleasure, but also the peril of self-teaching.
Interintellect Salons are open, respectful discussions. It's not a presentation, I won't be lecturing (you'll be glad to hear!). Everyone is given room to think and speak and I'm excited to see what perspectives arise. I think it's going to be a great conversation.
On The Web
The Filing Cabinet
This May 2021 article is a long but interesting piece, giving a history of the filing cabinet and the development of office work. It also makes the case for the importance of the filing cabinet as a "piece of information infrastructure" and as a tool that has structured our thought - and through the metaphors of filing in computing, continues to do so. Those structures have real pros and cons which we would be wise to pay attention to.
Making A Racket?
Racket is a new service built around making it easy to record short (9 minute) pieces. Benjamin Taylor, Managing Partner of the RedQuadrant Consultancy and a prominent member of the systems thinking community, tweeted about his troubled relationship with engineers. As a former engineer I suggested we chat about it and this "Racket" was the result. One thing I learned was that 9 minutes isn't very long once a good conversation gets going.
- Today - 15th July at 2000 London Time (BST), Neville A Mehra hosts his first Interintellect Salon - Cultivating Creativity: Where Do Ideas Come From? (Ticketed, $19) - it looks like it will be a great conversation.
- (Today's Thinking Masterminds Twitter has been cancelled after technical problems last week, we hope to relaunch soon, possibly with a tweaked format.)
- Friday July 16th at 1830 BST, Michael Pollan – The Mind-Altering Power of Plants (how to Academy, £15) - Exploring the culture and science of three mind-changing molecules – caffeine, morphine and mescaline.
- Saturday July 17th at 1500 BST, Liz Voeller has created an Interintellect Salon : Herb Simon and Your Life as Nearly Decomposable Systems (Ticketed, $20) about Simon's unique approach to complexity and how it can inform how we personally deal with the complex.
- Monday July 26th at 1830 BST - Amartya Sen – Home in the World (how to Academy, £15) - in conversation with Peter Frankopan, the distinguished economist looks back on his life and work.
- Tuesday July 27th at 1900 BST - Indy Neogy - The Pleasures and Perils of the Autodidact (see above, Ticketed, $15)
- And of course, Edition #004 of this newsletter will be out on Thursday 29th July afternoon London time - feel free to share this Edition with a friend before then. ;-)
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