June 2020 – on chance meetings, innovation, Juneteenth, and things happening all of a sudden


A slow month as I am am working on a book and, like you, I am processing recent events.

Maintaining professionalism in the age of black death in which I invite folks to be mindful of what our black colleagues, friends, and neighbors are going through.


I still believe it’s too early to talk about a “new normal”:

First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 1.5 million last week, well above the 1.3 million expected. While new weekly unemployment filings have been slowly decreasing since peaking in late March, they have remained at historically high levels for over three months. New jobless claims have topped 1 million for 14 straight weeks. (ABC)

True words from Paul Graham:

One of the biggest things lost in remote work is chance meetings. These are very important, but hard to quantify. If you measure productivity on individual projects, everything will seem fine. Yet when you read stories of how things happened, chance meetings were often crucial.

Several managers I have conversations with have established ways to provide opportunities for chance meetings. What are yours?

David Rotman in the MIT Tech Review pulls no punches:

The US’s paralysis in the face of covid-19 matters not only because it has already doomed tens of thousands to an early death and crippled the largest economy in the world, but because it reveals a deep and fundamental flaw in how the nation thinks about innovation.

The Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in the United States passed January 1st 1863. It took over 2 years for the news to reach some enslaved people. “The Story of Juneteenth” in Jstor.

Rebecca Solnit on how what we are witnessing in the streets of the country today did not occur all of a sudden:

“You can point to specifics about this moment—the horrific brutality of Floyd’s public death by lynching at the hands of the police. To the frustration and desperation of people who had been locked up and financially crushed by the pandemic and had seen Covid-19, thanks to structural racism, become increasingly a disease of black and brown people. (…) But none of these would have signified if the smallest thing hadn’t happened millions of times over: people changed their minds. Or in the case of the young, grew up with minds shaped by something better than the obliviousness and indifference that passed as not being racist in my own youth. (…) There is a danger of believing (…) that this happened all at once, rather than that something slowly growing and changing suddenly became visible.

There is a reminder here for managers: What is it that you should be keeping an eye on? What systems do you have in place to identify and monitor them? so you never have to say: “I didn’t see that coming”.

I just love Rita



Work: I’m still working on the book. It’ll be a while. Tentative title: Managing from the inside out.

Music: I’m rediscovering Foo Fighters.

Finished readingThe human side of enterprise by Douglas McGregor.

Started reading: A short autobiography of Viktor E. Frankl, the author of Man’s search for meaning.

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