re: effective meetings

Again: the single most useful training you can give an adult is how to run a meeting and how to participate in someone else’s. The world is mostly run by lawyers, MBAs, and military officers because they’re taught this as a first-class skill.

1. Decide if there actually needs to be a meeting. If the only purpose is to share information, send a brief email instead.

2. Write and circulate an agenda. If nobody cares enough to do this, the meeting doesn’t need to happen.

3. Include timings in the agenda to help you keep the meeting moving.

4. Prioritize. Things that will have high impact but take little time should be done first.

5. Put someone in charge. This doesn’t mean doing all the talking, any more than being a referee means kicking the ball the most.

6. Require politeness. No one gets to be rude and no one gets to ramble (because the purest form of politeness is respecting others’ time).

7. No technology. Insist that everyone put their phones, tablets, and laptops into politeness mode (i.e., closes them).

8. No interruptions. Participants should raise a finger or put up a sticky note if they want to speak, and the chair should handle sequencing.

9. Record minutes. Write down the most important pieces of information that were shared, every decision that was made, and every task that was assigned to someone.

10. Take notes. While other people are talking, participants should take notes of questions they want to ask or points they want to make. (You’ll be surprised how smart it makes you look when it’s your turn to speak.)

11. End early. If your meeting is scheduled for 10:00-11:00, you should aim to end at 10:55 to give people time to get where they need to go next.

As soon as the meeting is over, the minutes should be circulated so that people who weren’t at the meeting can keep track of what’s going on.

This also lets everyone check what was actually said or promised. More than once, I’ve looked at minutes and thought, “Wait a minute, I didn’t promise to have it ready then.”

And circulating minutes means people can be held accountable at subsequent meetings.

Via Greg Wilson explained further here


re: the coming Robot Rampage

German robot maker Kuka AG, acquired last year by China’s Midea Group Co., estimates a typical industrial robot costs about 5 euros ($5.28) an hour. Manufacturers spend 50 euros an hour to employ someone in Germany and about 10 euros an hour in China.

More via Bloomberg

“reflects the technological transformation of the world’s markets”

In last weeks’ SundayBusiness section of the NYT, Nathaniel Popper explored the implications of the purchase by IntercontinentalExchange (headed by chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher) of the New York Stock Exchange.

I  couldn’t help but think of it as perfect example of contemporary network culture and the New Aesthetic of algorithmic machines. For instance we read:

Does it really matter who owns the New York Stock Exchange and its parent company, NYSE Euronext? For most people, stock exchanges are probably a bit like plumbing. Most of us don’t think much about them — until something goes wrong. But lately, some things have gone spectacularly wrong…One sign of trouble came in 2010, when an errant trade ricocheted through computer networks and touched off one of the most harrowing moments in stock market history. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 900 points in a matter of minutes, and a new phrase entered the lexicon: flash crash…Since then, flash crashes in individual stocks have been remarkably common, as the centuries-old system of central exchanges has given way to a field of competing electronic systems…ICE wasn’t involved in any of these problems. In fact, it has been praised as one of the first exchanges to put limits on lightning-quick, high-frequency trading“.

Below a comparison of the two entities, architectural or physical manifestion/presence.

Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

IntercontinentalExchange is based on a few floors of a suburban Atlanta office building, a sharp contrast to the colonnaded temple of the N.Y.S.E Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

The contrast with the New York Stock Exchange is striking. Behind its neoclassical face, the Big Board is a sprawling labyrinth of historic oil paintings, gilded leather chairs, stained wood and elegant dining rooms — all set amid crowds of gawking tourists…ICE, meanwhile, occupies a few floors of an anodyne black-glass cube surrounded by trees and parking lots. The employees share their cafeteria with the building’s other tenants. The walls are lined with dry-erase boards“.

The New York Stock Exchange, photographed on January 12, 2002.Photographed by Luigi Novi

The New York Stock Exchange, photographed on January 12, 2002.
Photographed by Luigi Novi

An interesting side-note is the fact that Jeffrey Sprecher was featured in a recent (Jan 12th 2013) edition of the Download column in the SundayReview NYT section, wherein he updated  readers as to what he was: Reading, Listening, Watching, Following and Purchasing. At that time he was still awaiting regulatory approval to acquire the New York Stock Exchange.

A quote: “I have an affinity toward street artists who are provocateurs and can capture the essence of a controversial topic in a single image“.

Additionally, he notes for Download, that re: the three websites he regularly reads (about watches on; Porsches on; wines on, “All three sites delve into the complicated nuances of seemingly simple objects and appeal to the side of me that is an engineer“.

a new social geography of the global maritime system

Mega-Ports by Olivier Mongin on the new geography of containerization for Eurozine.

Mongin writes of a “multi-speed urbanism”, a “hyper” and “hypo” urbanism, and “exo-urbanism” shaped by connections to globalized flows, nodes, and a littoral quality.  The business slogan of “JIT flow, zero storage” takes advantage of the multimodal character of the container. Specialized ship architectures take on logistical parameters with terms such as Malaccamax or post-Panamax.

Excerpted from a forthcoming book Une mondialisation urbaine à plusieurs vitesses [“Cities under pressure: Urban globalization at several speeds”].

via @subtopes

Bankruptcy in Jefferson County

In Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous, which includes Birmingham, officials say they had to stop paying even their general obligations because they were draining the cash they needed for essential services.

“Jefferson County made a very different decision than Rhode Island did,” Mr. Klee said. “Rhode Island put bondholders ahead of its citizens, and Jefferson County is not going to do that.

He called the notion that a full faith and credit pledge was inviolate, and that a debtor must honor it even in bankruptcy, “a myth and a scare tactic.”

Via the NYT (here)

Good for them I say. Seems as if Jefferson County administrators/staff have their priorities weighted correctly. However, it does make one wonder what would happen if other municipalities or government bond issuers, took this approach? Might have some very serious long term consequences both in terms of restricting local government(s) in future efforts to raise money by issuing bonds and also in terms of bond markets and the stability of the larger financial system as a whole.

Euro debt crisis and spatial memory as baseball nostalgia.

Data Points: Bill Marsh for NYT

Arrows show the imbalances of debt exposure in Europe during this current and ongoing Euro monetary and PIIGS crisis in a great infographic from the NYT. Image found in this article It’s All Connected: An Overview of the Euro Crisis.

Steven Heller for the NYT reviews Nader Vossoughian’s Otto Neurath: The Language of the Global Polis “, wherein Vossoughian, argues Neurath believed that “the dissemination of images or pictures could foster Bildung, that is, education and self-actualization” and Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman’s, Symbolwhich contains over 1,300 logos classified by visual type” divided into two section Abstract and Representational.

In No True Sense of History Without a Sense of Place, Jane Leavy explores baseball’s heavily nostalgic and rich sense of history and place, particularly with regards to the architecture/layout of baseballs stadium/fields (for instance see here and here). After noting how many historic diamonds have been lost over time, she proposes “Why not create a national baseball landmark society to protect the places that still exist and mark those that once mattered?“. The piece raises interesting questions about the role space plays in memorialization. As Leavy explains, as fields are moved or closed physicists, are even dragged into to assist with the detective work need to correctly identify and landmark (if only with a plaque), sites of various record holding significance…

All of these articles are from a Sunday NYT edition, which is now almost two weeks old, but I have been busy and they are interesting anyways…