Rehearse to boost adaptive power

Image: Business Insider » Why star US Gen. Stanley McChrystal eats only one meal per day

General Stanley McCrystal from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force in [ HBR » What Companies Can Learn from Military Teams]:

I still believe in rehearsals, but I’ve learned they have a different value. When I joined the Army Rangers in 1985 we’d rehearse airfield seizure operations—we’d parachute in wearing night vision goggles, and take the field. It’s a pretty complex thing, and we’d do it over and over. We’d have contingencies in case things went wrong, but we were always trying to make things as foolproof as we could.

The longer we did it, the more I realized the value of rehearsal was not in trying to get this perfectly choreographed kabuki that would unfold as planned.

The value of rehearsal was to familiarize everybody with all the things that could happen, what the relationships are, and how you communicate. What you’re really doing is ”’building up the flexibility to adapt”’.

I’ve never been on an operation that went as planned.

Teaching is learning

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Image: Everett Collection » One Room School For African Americans

The one who learns the most is the teacher, not the students. Teaching, in contrast to being taught, is a wonderful way to learn.

Schools have reversed the proper role of students and teachers—the roles that were played in the old one-room school house. The students taught each other with assistance from the teacher as they, the students, requested.

According to The Association of Libraries in the United States, retention rates for each type of exposure are as follows:
*10% of what is seen
*20% of what is heard
*30% of what is seen and heard
*70% of what is talked over with others
*80% of what is used and done in real life
*95% of what someone else is taught to do


Tell them, and they will forget.
Show them, and they will remember.
Involve them, and they will understand.

Source: [ A Systemic View Of Transformational Leadership], Russell L. Ackoff.

Creativity and down time

Vincent Walsh talks about ”down time” that facilitates creativity and the emergence of new ideas. ”Down time” implies that the other part is ”up time”.

I tend to reverse the perspective: our time awake is in fact ”down time” and when we are asleep or relaxed we are actually enjoying ”up time”. We are, however, unaware of our up time.


Deviant Art » eReSaW » Butterfly Effect
Image: Deviant Art » eReSaW » Butterfly Effect

One important source of [[uncertainty]] is a property known as nonlinearity. ”’Nonlinearity describes systems in which causes and effects are disproportionate.”’ Minor incidents or actions can have decisive effects. Major effort can have no effect whatsoever. Outcomes of endeavors can hinge on the actions of a few individuals. Issues can be decided by [[chance|chances]] and incidents so minute as to figure in histories simply as anecdotes.

Philosophy Of Command

Centuries of battlefield-tested agility, leanliness, and maneuverability. How agile can you be?

It is essential that our philosophy of command support the way we fight work.

First and foremost, in order to generate the tempo of operations we desire and to best cope with the [[uncertainty]], disorder, and fluidity of combat work, command and control must be decentralized.

Adapted from United States Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting.

Wonderful paradox, “decentralized command and control”.



  • Goldilocks is an interesting technique and basically doing the opposite of estimating: You shape the work into the desired sizes.
    Vote each item into one of three piles: “Too Big”, “Just Right”, and “Too Small”.
  • Split any “Too Big” items into “Just Right”-sized ones.
  • Group any “Too Small” items together into “Just Right”.

The Goldilocks Principle applied to sorting stories reminds of potato grading machines that sort potatoes into different sizes.

Enjoy the flow.



Source: InfoQ » Q&A on Kanban in Action.