You can look at my home page for more information, but the short answer is that I'm a dilettante who likes thinking about a variety of subjects. I like to think of myself as a systems-level thinker, more concerned with the big picture than with the details. Current interests include politics, community formation, and social interface design. Plus books, of course.
A friend of mine at Signature shared the theory of Launch Chicken with me. Say you're in a project with a tight schedule with several different areas contributing to its success, say a product launch. Let's say that you know that the area you are responsible for is not going to make the launch. You're supposed to hit the abort button, and let the project manager know immediately. But, you know that another area is even further behind than you. So you hold out, hoping that they'll abort first, taking the blame for delaying the launch, and giving you the time you need to finish your area. Now it becomes a matter of will, like the original game of Chicken, where two kids are driving cars at each other. Who will chicken out first? Of course, what happens if nobody chickens out? Bad things, like the collision that happens in the original game.
How can such catastrophic distortions of information be avoided? My coworker and I were kicking the question around last week, wondering how a project manager would be able to make the right decision based on the carefully massaged data that they are fed at project review meetings. He asked the question, "In a great organization, do you think that the compression of information being fed to the decision makers is less biased/contrived, or are the decision-makers just superior at sifting out the truth from the pre-digested information they get?"
I think it's probably a combination of both (I'm always distrustful of bi-valued questions). I would suspect that good leaders are able to detect soft spots in people's presentations, where the numbers don't reflect reality, and go check out the raw data to find out what's "really" going on. By doing so, not only will they get a more accurate picture, but they'll also encourage people to present a more "honest" picture at the next presentation. It's a virtuous circle of trust and accuracy.
It also ties into my ideas of what an effective information carnivore looks like. Somebody who understands they are higher up the information chain, and are getting only pre-digested summaries of information, but understands their ability to open up those summaries to get a more complete picture. They can't do that all the time, because they are very busy, and they need to leverage the efficiency of the summarized form, but when problems arise, they understand that the summaries are inherently incomplete. Good information carnivores make good managers.
posted at: 20:11 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /rants/management | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal
Trading Randy Moss
After reading this Pro Football Weekly article on possible trade scenarios for Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings, I wrote back to the author with one of my own. And, well, since I have a blog, I'll share it here. On the off chance it actually happens, it'd be cool to say that I called it.
My hoped-for destination for Randy Moss is the Atlanta Falcons. It works for Randy Moss, because he works best in a playground offense - "I'll go deep, and you throw it up high for me". Michael Vick, the quarterback for the Falcons, also works best in a playground offense - "I'll run around back here until somebody gets open, and then I'll launch it 70 yards through the air". (for those of you who don't watch football, Vick is the most absurdly gifted athlete in the league right now - he's faster than anybody on the field, and can throw the ball further than pretty much any other quarterback).
The Falcons desperately need a deep threat receiver. I came up with this scenario last week, but today's game against the Eagles just proved it. The Eagles were able to put 9 defenders in the box (normally it's 7), because the Falcons receivers just aren't threats - they can't get open. Now picture adding Randy Moss, the single most dangerous deep threat in the NFL. All of a sudden, you have to drop the safety back to protect against Vick flinging it 60 yards through the air to a streaking Moss in stride. Peerless Price, the current lead receiver, goes back to the #2 role that he's more comfortable in (his best year as a pro was playing opposite Eric Moulds in Buffalo), because he can often beat the #2 cornerback on a defense. The running game opens up, because the defense can't stack the box with defenders any more (this is even more significant because the Falcons already had the #1 rushing offense in the NFL this season partially due to Vick). The defense has to respect the pass _and_ the rush. And that opens up all sorts of playcalling possibilities. Play action becomes a brutal option, where Vick fakes to Dunn going into the line, the linebackers and safeties take two steps in to stop the run, then realize Vick still has the ball, and that Randy Moss has gotten behind them. Vick stops, launches it, and it's a touchdown. It would be simply devastating.
I don't think the Falcons have enough to interest the Vikings in a trade, but if I were them, I'd consider giving up a first round pick and some of their defensive line depth (maybe Chad Lavalais, a second year defensive tackle who'd be affordable for the Vikings).
I highly doubt it would happen, because, well, it'd be too much fun. A source did reveal today that the Vikings were leaning 60/40 towards trading Moss, according to ESPN.com, so we may get some fun trade scenarios this offseason. He'll probably end up with Baltimore, because they're even more desperate for a receiver than Atlanta. But Kyle Boller isn't nearly as exciting as Vick (although he does have the arm strength - Boller turned into a high first round draft pick when he demonstrated to scouts that he could throw a football through the goalposts from the fifty yard lines from his knees). So I'm going to hold out hope for my scenario.
posted at: 19:07 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /rants/sports | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal
Couple more quick links I found recently.
Looks like a class I'd enjoy. I'm going to try to keep a closer eye on the class blog and watch the videos as they're posted. The latest speaker apparently espouses something called panarchy, which I'll have to read a bit more on before I have an opinion.