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Isaac Truett
Software Engineer; Geek
Software Engineer; Geek


Kid: What comes after "u" in "Jurassic World?"

Me: Dinosaurs!
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My first pizza using the Tangzhong technique for the crust.

I made the dough Monday night. I was planning to make pizza on Tuesday and wanted a second chance at the dough in case it was a total disaster. I measured out the flour by weight, then put about three tablespoons aside in a saucepan. I added 6oz of water and heated it, stirring, until it formed a thick glop (technical term there). So far, so good.

Everything came together. The dough felt good kneading. Springy; not too sticky.

I put it in the refrigerator for a slow rise overnight. An hour or so later it was threatening to escape the bowl and I put it in its place.

Long story short, Tuesday didn't work out and the dough got another night in the fridge. I put it on the counter late this morning to warm up. I spread it out on the parchment paper and let it rest while I started preparing the sauce and toppings. I preheated the oven, mounded the dough a bit around the edges, and brushed it with olive oil.

At around 500, the first crust went in to pre-bake for 5 minutes. You can see it next to the oiled, un-baked crust below. After the second crust pre-baked, the first one went back in, topped, at 525, for another 5 minutes.

This is easily the best pizza crust I've ever made. The crust had a very yeasty smell as it was pre-baking and puffed up a lot, but didn't mind being nudged down again to get smothered in sauce. When it was all done, it was crunchy around the edge, but still very soft and chewy on the inside. The bottom surface held firm despite my tendency to over-top my pizza. Oh, and it tasted really good, too. Between pre-baking and the pre-heated pizza stone it cooked on, I was able to bake the bread through, melt the cheese on top, and nothing seemed over- or under-cooked.

It will be interesting to see how Tangzhong crust works with a shorter rising time, since I don't normally start dough two days in advance. However, I think if I can plan it out in the future I might just stick to the two days, given how well it turned out.
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Yesterday's pie. Cherry/blueberry.

I haven't made a pie crust in... decades? Kinda ugly, but nice and tender.
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As of (or at least coming into force) midnight this morning, the EU is forcing the tech world to wrestle with and come to an understanding of the concept of consent. If this is successful, will having a clearer model of consent presented by the software people use every day inform and mature the everyday user's understanding of consent in other areas?
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Obviously the child was too young to watch The Empire Strikes Back.
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They see me rollin' my biscuits
I know they're all thinkin' they're too
White and fluffy
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I need a copy of this book. +Mike Bland might be interested, too.
Are workers lazy? Do they need to be motivated?

I keep hearing talk of UBI (universal basic income) as likely to fail because people are inherently lazy, or they need work to feel self worth.

There's one thing that has felt missing in each of these discussions: the assumptions we make about people, particularly those who have low socio-economic status (who affluent people rarely actually talk to directly.)

Here's an excellent passage from Reinventing Organizations that expresses what I keep feeling is missing:

Explicit assumptions

Founders and leaders of self-managing organizations get asked the same question over and over again: isn’t it risky and foolish to let people make decisions without top-down control, especially when money is involved? In their experience, it is less, not more risky, because better decisions get made. But the really interesting thing is that the choice between trust and control is seldom debated on a rational level. [my emphasis] It’s a choice that gets made based on deeply held, often unconscious assumptions we hold about people and their motivations. Several leaders of Teal Organizations have found it useful, therefore, to talk often and explicitly about the assumptions underpinning self-management and to contrast them with the assumptions made by traditional hierarchies.

When AES acquired a new power plant, Bakke would often introduce AES’s management practices to the new group of colleagues by asking them what assumptions owners and managers of a typical factory hold about their workers. Here is how Bakke summarizes the assumptions workers generally feel bosses have about them:

• Workers are lazy. If they are not watched, they will not work diligently.
• Workers work primarily for money. They will do what it takes to make as much money as possible.
• Workers put their own interest ahead of what is best for the organization. They are selfish.
• Workers perform best and are most effective if they have one simple repeatable task to accomplish.
• Workers are not capable of making good decisions about important matters that affect the economic performance of the company. Bosses are good at making these decisions.
• Workers do not want to be responsible for their actions or for decisions that affect the performance of the organization.
• Workers need care and protection, just as children need the care of their parents.
• Workers should be compensated by the hour or by the number of “pieces” produced. Bosses should be paid a salary and possibly receive bonuses and stock.
• Workers are like interchangeable parts of machines. One “good” worker is pretty much the same as any other “good” worker.
• Workers need to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Bosses need to hold them accountable.

These assumptions sound harsh when they are put into words, and yet they are the basis for the structures and practices we have in organizations today. If this view of employees is true, leaders are prudent to build in controls, rewards, and punishments; only a fool would trust workers to make decisions using the advice process. Because the assumptions are often implicit, or even held subconsciously, Bakke felt it was critical to make them explicit and then to define a different set of assumptions.

AES people:

• Are creative, thoughtful, trustworthy adults, capable of making important decisions;
• Are accountable and responsible for their decisions and actions;
• Are fallible. We make mistakes, sometimes on purpose;
• Are unique; and
• Want to use our talents and skills to make a positive contribution to the organization and the world.

With this set of assumptions, self-management and the advice process make perfect sense; while control mechanisms and hierarchy are needless and demoralizing distractions.

Jean-François Zobrist often initiated similar discussions with workers and new recruits at FAVI to explain the rationale for self-management. One day, for training purposes, he wrote down the following set of assumptions:

“The analysis of our organization chart in the 1980s [when FAVI was still run like any other factory] reveals without a doubt that men and women were considered to be:”

• Thieves because everything was locked up in storage rooms.
• Lazy, as their working time was controlled and every late showing punished by somebody … who didn’t even care to inquire about the reasons for being late.
• Not dependable because all their production was controlled by somebody else who must not have been very dependable either because random controls … had been put in place.
• Not intelligent, as a “manufacturing engineering” department did the thinking for them.

Zobrist and his colleagues defined three new assumptions that over time have become mantras inside the factory.

• People are systematically considered to be good.
(Reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent)
• There is no performance without happiness.
(To be happy, we need to be motivated. To be motivated, we need to be responsible. To be responsible we must understand why and for whom we work, and be free to decide how)
• Value is created on the shop floor. (Shop floor operators craft the products; the CEO and staff at best serve to support them, at worst are costly distractions)

If you are familiar with management theory, you will have recognized the similarity between the statements from AES and FAVI and the Theory X and Theory Y that Douglas McGregor developed in the 1960s when he was a professor at MIT. He stated that managers hold one of two sets of beliefs concerning employees: some think employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work whenever possible (Theory X); others think workers can be ambitious, self-motivated, and exercise self-control (Theory Y).

Which set of assumptions is true? People can debate this topic endlessly. McGregor had a key insight that has since been validated time and again: both are true. If you view people with mistrust (Theory X) and subject them to all sorts of controls, rules, and punishments, they will try to game the system, and you will feel your thinking is validated. Meet people with practices based on trust, and they will return your trust with responsible behavior. Again, you will feel your assumptions were validated. Expressed in terms of developmental psychology, if you create a strong Amber-Orange structure and culture people will end up responding in Amber-Orange ways; create a strong enough Teal context and people are likely to behave accordingly.

At the core, this comes down to the fundamental spiritual truth that we reap what we sow: fear breeds fear and trust breeds trust. Traditional hierarchies and their plethora of built-in control systems are, at their core, formidable machines that breed fear and distrust. Self-managing structures and the advice process build up over time a vast, collective reservoir of trust among colleagues.

Organizations routinely talk about their values and mission; Teal Organizations talk about something even more fundamental―their basic assumptions about human nature. This has to do, I believe, with the fact that self-managing practices are still countercultural today. Many of us hold deeply ingrained assumptions about people and work that are based on fear, assumptions that call for hierarchy and control. Only by shining light on these fear-based beliefs can we decide to choose a different set of assumptions. FAVI, AES, and others have found that when colleagues know and talk about the two sets of assumptions frequently, people shift their belief system. The risk that fear-based control mechanisms will creep in through the back door is minimized. Someone will speak up and say, “Wait a minute! Does this new process fit our assumptions? I think not.”
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I came across a wonderful contrasting example to complement my recent blog post about egomaniac engineers. The principles -- being encouraging, open, curious, and giving junior engineers space to explore their ideas and experiment -- are the ones I strive to practice every day.
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"Stop horsing around before somebody gets hurt."

Not 30 seconds later: "Ow!"

Was I too slow or were they?
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