12-13-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Delegation on Steroids

At Harvard Business Review is an interesting piece about how Google attacks problems. The piece breaks the approach down into four parts:

    1. People want to do a good job.
    2. Given enough eyeballs, every bug is shallow.
    3. People perform best at tasks that interest them.
    4. Great leaders provide a sense of mission and purpose.
Based on the concluding paragraph of the third point, I would essentialize this by saying that Larry Page is a master of delegation:
[T]he "best people" weren't chosen by Page, they chose themselves and proved so adept at the task that the AdWords problem was solved over a weekend. Far faster than most CEO's can organize a meeting among "top people."
We see Larry Page using his grasp of the better, value-oriented side of human nature so well that his urgent tasks seem to delegate themselves! It is astounding how much time and effort that harnessing the interest of others can save.

Weekend Reading

"Human knowledge is neither automatic nor infallible, and it's not a moral failure to not know everything." -- Michael Hurd, in "What Makes a Person a Perfectionist" at The Delaware Coast Press

"For two decades I've been questioning the concept of the alleged disease of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." -- Michael Hurd, in "ADHD: The Party's Over" at The Delaware Wave

My Two Cents

I'll remember the Hurd piece on ADHD when my son reaches grade school age: I have seen ADHD used to "explain" typical boyhood behavior so many times that I regard having to contest such a diagnosis as almost inevitable. I have never been on the ADHD bandwagon, but I would have to challenge professional authority if someone decides to apply that label. 

Word to the Wise: Dump Sitemeter

The "third-party script" that was causing people to have trouble visiting my blog stopped causing the problem as soon as I removed it. As has been the case for numerous other bloggers with the same or similar problems, this was the script that enabled the (former?) site statistics-tracking service, Sitemeter.

My site being replaced, without my knowledge or consent, by a full-page ad for something I've never even heard of is completely unacceptable, and I don't care if it happened through incompetence or sleaziness. I don't run ads here, and if I ever decide to, they will be unobtrusive. I hate being made to redirect my attention by visually-distracting, noisy ads, and I have a general policy of not subjecting others to things I that find annoying.

Sitemeter has lost my trust and I can't think of anything that outfit can do to gain it back.

My thanks go to reader C. Andrew for bringing my attention to this problem.



Today: Corrected reader credit in last part of post.


Steve D said...

'that I regard having to contest such a diagnosis as almost inevitable'

Gus, I may have mentioned this to you previously but this is almost what happened to us when my son was in second and third grade. Even at a private school, even with both his parents, his medical doctor and a clinical psychologist all united that my son did not have ADHD, even with tests that proved his ability to concentrate was better than average, even though he could spend hours working on a project but only if it interested him, even when he showed no sign of inattentiveness at home but only in class, his third grade teacher still went on and on about how he must have a problem and how drugs helped her son.

The school didn’t seem to believe me when I relayed what the psychologist had told me or showed them the test scores. Finally after many fruitless meetings with the teachers and a principal who unfortunately had just got her PhD in education which I swear they only give out to the most clueless educators, I finally got a meeting together and had the psychologist phone in and speak to the principal and the teachers directly. And after the meeting she questioned his credentials!

When I would volunteer to be the math or reading parent in the morning, I noticed that the teachers would hold a classroom discussion before they started in which the class would sit around and discuss ‘classroom issues’ for over an hour. Are you kidding me? Make second and third grade boys sit around and discuss boring, ridiculous stuff for an hour, the very first thing in the morning? Then they wondered why some of them had problems paying attention.

The psychologist asked me some questions about the school and told me that my son would be fine by 4th grade because they did things differently in 4th grade. He was right. At the first parent/teacher conference in 4th grade, I asked the social studies teacher about his attention problem and the teacher didn’t know what I was talking about. Go figure.

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. I now vaguely recall us talking about this once, but I'd forgotten. Thanks for the reminder, and for showing other parents who might happen by what they may be up against.


Steve D said...

As far as the existence of ADHD in general is concerned, neither the doctor not the psychologist questioned that. They simply said he didn’t have it. (which disappointed the teachers because it meant there was no easy solution). The final diagnosis seemed to be that it was partly due to boredom, partly environment, partly a phase in his development. I think that personality also plays a major role.

I will say the fact that they could definitively rule ADHD out (at least in my son’s case) seemed at the time to me to actually support the existence of ADHD as real disease or syndrome. Certainly some kids with class attention problems do fail the test while others do not and there has to be a reason for this difference.

It may be that ADHD is a symptom which can have multiple causes and the drugs alleviate this symptom. More likely, I think is that these drugs are general biological actives and may affect everyone with or without attention issues. Or they might affect metabolism. Surely, some of their efficacy could be due to the power of suggestion or the placebo effect.

Gus Van Horn said...

"They simply said he didn’t have it. (which disappointed the teachers because it meant there was no easy solution).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why, regardless of whether ADHD is a real disease, I will probably have to waste time and energy fighting that battle.