constraints

What Do You Gain or Lose with Shortcuts, Rules, and Laws?

I love shortcuts—especially if I’m not supposed to use them. Why can’t I avoid right-angle paths and use the hypotenuse instead? That saves me some time. Can I make my exercise easier? I can—and I too often lose the value of the exercise. So shortcuts aren’t always good or always bad. The context matters. Shortcuts …

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How Can We Embrace Complexity—and Stop Trying to Avoid It?

The world feels more complex now, where the Big Issues of the Day create “interesting” times in our lives. Even planning for vacation often requires adaptability. We must be ready to toss those plans when the circumstances change. Some people tell me we need to “return” to simpler times. Or that we can use direct, …

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What Opportunities Do You Have Now That You Did Not Back Then?

In the 1960s, the US passed a bunch of policies that created a time of much more opportunity for many kinds of people—including me. Because of the Civil Rights Act, and later, Title IX, I had more opportunities and freedom to take my place in the world. I could apply for a job that traditionally …

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How Can We Honor Other People’s Values and Move to Falsifiable Claims?

I learned something new this week, about falsifiable and non-falsifiable claims. When we use hypotheses to examine the world around us, we look for observations that can disprove that hypothesis. In other words, we want to see if we can make the experiment fail in some way, to understand more. As an example: Hypothesis: All …

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How Do We Plan for Both Cascading Effects and Catastrophic Success?

CAL Newsletter: How Do We Plan for Both Cascading Effects and Catastrophic Success? I learned new words this week for events I’ve seen many times: catastrophic effects and catastrophic success. I’m sure you’ve experienced catastrophic failure. Here’s an example that’s happened to me too often over my career: a disk drive fails, taking all my data with it. I …

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Do You Offer Your Attention to People Who Deserve It?

I spoke with a treasured colleague, Alex, a couple of weeks ago. He told me he was so busy he couldn’t “find” the time to write. I asked about his family and the house. No, everyone’s okay. Cooking, cleaning, kids—all good. He’s not working out any more than usual. I then asked this question: “How …

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