The Cone of Uncertainty is a concept from the world of Project Management. But, as an idea, it is so compellingly simple and so widely applicable, that it deserves a place of its own in our Big Ideas series.
So, in this article, we’ll take a look at what the cone of uncertainty is, and how it makes a helpful mental model in many contexts.
Continue reading The Cone of Uncertainty
What better way to start the year than with an introduction to the science of Happiness?
And it’s not just a thriving area of scientific research. It’s also a predictably fertile topic for popular science books. On my shelf, I have:
- Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman (2003) (US|UK)
- Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, by Richard Layard (2005) (US|UK)
- Happiness, The Science Behind Your Smile, by Daniel Nettle (2005) (US|UK)
- The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt (2006) (US|UK)
- Happier, by Tal ben-Shahar (2008) (US|UK)
- The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor (2010) (US|UK)
And I have stopped collecting.
Continue reading Happiness: The Pursuit of a Good Life
This post is published on New Year’s Eve. No-one reads blogs on New Year’s Eve – unless you do…
But it’s a Big Idea. We know that because, every New Year’s Eve, millions of people gather in groups from 3 to 300,000 – maybe even more. And they spend billions of dollars, Pounds, Euros, and Yen on food, drink, parties, and fireworks.
New Year’s Eve has become one of – maybe ‘the’ – biggest secular celebrations in the calendar. But, is there any more to it than that?
Continue reading New Year’s Eve: Happy New Year
Christmas Eve. Hardly the main event, is it? So, does it stand, as a Big Idea?
Well, hardly on its own. Without Christmas, there’d be no Christmas Eve.
But, it does have enough cultural attachments of its own, to justify a place on our list of Big Ideas. Especially as, once every 7 years, we publish on Christmas Eve.
Continue reading Christmas Eve: ‘Twas the Night before…’
The acronym VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. It may be a military coinage, but it seems to sum up so much of what the modern world feels like.
But, never fear: linguistic fluency and creative ingenuity have conjured a number of strategies to counter the prevailing VUCA environment we inhabit. Best known among them is Bob Johanson’s ‘VUCA prime’. It is an alternative acronym with four ripostes to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity.
Continue reading VUCA and VUCA Prime
Only in a world where so many of us want to be ever more productive, can a simple formula just for getting things done become a Big Idea.
But a big idea it has become. Dave Allen’s branded approach to Getting Things Done (GTD) has attracted the attention (he claims) of over 2 million people.
So, we need to take a look at it. We’ll consider:
- Why do we need systems for managing our time?
- What is the Getting Things Done approach? and
- Who is it well suited to?
Continue reading Getting Things Done: Deliberate Time Management
The minute someone walks in the room, you can usually get a sense of how they are feeling. Not from what they say, but from what their posture, gesture, and expression tell you. That’s body language.
Human beings are wired to read one another’s body language. It’s only the exceptional few (towards one end of the autistic spectrum) who lack the capacity. The upshot of this is simple; if a little surprising:
We cannot not communicate.
Everything we do – or don’t do – says something to people around us. Body language is universal, powerful, and rarely lies.
Continue reading Body Language: Let me Hear Your Body Talk
Big data is a big idea.
It’s so big that big data is actually three big ideas in one.
Because when we use the term ‘big data’ we could be talking about the:
- scale of big data sets
- discipline of capturing, storing, and analysing them, or
- technology set that allows this
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and put our arms deep into some big numbers.
Continue reading Big Data: Analysing the World
Strengths are the things we are naturally good at. Everyone knows that. And it has become something of a commonplace that:
We should play to our strengths
In fact, that seeming truism has been underpinned by a lot of academic research over the last 20 years or so, since Martin Seligman formally kicked-off the discipline of Positive Psychology.
So it is in the Positive Psychology sense that we shall examine what strengths are, and why they matter to us.
Continue reading Strengths: Character Strengths and Signature Strengths
The lighting of bonfires in the long nights of autumn and winter is a tradition as old as mankind’s occupation of higher latitudes. But Bonfire Night – as the term is used in the UK – has a very specific origin. On 5 November 1605, a group fo Catholic conspirators sought to blow up the Houses of Parliament, while the Protestant king, James I of England and VI of Scotland, was to be there with his family. One conspirator, Guy Fawkes, was found in the cellars with 36 barrels of gunpowder.
From that year, the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, as it was known, has been celebrated in Britain – and also in many Commonwealth countries. Since the 1606 law, the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’, commonly called the ‘Thanksgiving Act’, Bonfire Night has been on 5th November. It’s also sometimes called Guy Fawkes’ Night, because it is also a tradition to burn an effigy of the hapless engineer on top of the bonfire; the ‘Guy’ as he is known.
That ‘Guy’ is something of an ‘evil everyman’. It’s now a tradition in some places to replace Fawkes with an effigy of a newsworthy figure of hate or ridicule. This can sometimes give offence. But in Britain, the right to give offence – particularly to politicians and public figures – has long been cherished. Bonfire Night is a good outlet for this spirit.
Continue reading Bonfire Night: Please to Remember the 5th of November