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Recently I read somewhere, that I should make notes of what I read and review them from time to time. I decided to give it a try, since I read a lot and I think making such notes will be for me a way of remembering best ideas, quotes, or whatever from my books and magazines. I also decided to share those notes with you, in edited form as some have gotten pretty long. Just as a note – in many cases I copied whole passages without noting the page numbers, which is against good reference practices, but of course I will list title and author of a book (or article) where I got the notes from.

I do that with hope that at least some of you will reach for mentioned magazine or book when you will find my notes interesting. Ach, one more thing: small number of notes do not mean that the book or magazine was not good…

I will start from Harvard Business Review, March 2016 issue:

Article “Start-Ups That Last”, by Ranjay Gulati and Alicia DeSantola; page 58:

“…but as their firms scale, a growing number of people report to a handful of leaders. Founders may think this allows them to remain in command, because all decisions pass through them. But ironically, their organizations spin out of control as centralized authority becomes a bottleneck that hinders information flow, decision making, and execution. A couple of people at the top can’t effectively supervise everyone’s increasingly specialized day-to-day work; in such a system, accountability for organizational goals gets lost. And employees find it hard to remain focused and engaged when they don’t have managerial guidance and processes. They may become frustrated as they struggle for access to decision makers who are juggling many other projects and people. …”

I find this applicable not only to start-ups, but also to all organisations out there.

Article “How to Build a Culture of Originality”, by Adam Grant; page 86:

  1. You can get a lot of insight from true devils advocates, not people who pretend to be such.
  2. You need to balance culture of cohesion (agreement, which can improve decision making) with dissent (creative disagreement, which prevents culture from becoming a cult).
  3. Groups with authentic dissenters generate more – and better – solutions to problems.
  4. The more ideas the better – but you need to have good mechanism and judgment in sifting them through.
  5. Reward the best ideas, explain why those were chosen so the people will not adapt mentality of not submitting any because no one adapts them.

I guess I saved that bit as I tend to take the role of such a devil’s advocate quite often. I also think that healthy dosis of constructive criticism (and healthy acceptance of such criticism) may save many managers from biases and mistakes they would normally – in company of yes sayers – not see coming. This is the point 2 above.

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