Ray Ozzie's proposal to end the long-simmering crypto war between law enforcement and much of the tech world is getting a chilly reception from privacy advocates and security experts. They argue his plan is largely the same key-escrow program proposed 20 years ago and suffers from the same fatal shortcomings.
Dubbed "Clear," Ozzie's idea was first detailed Wednesday in an article published in Wired and described in general terms last month. Ozzie portrays Clear as a potential breakthrough in bridging the widening gulf between those who say the US government has a legitimate need to bypass encryption in extreme cases, such as those involving terrorism and child abuse, and technologists and civil libertarians who warn such bypasses threaten the security of billions of people.
Many years ago, I published an article titled The Gap, which was about the enormous chasm between what I consider good enough quality to ship and what I am actually capable of producing. I was going to write something on that topic today, but, as it turns out, The Gap expresses almost exactly what I wanted to say. So here it is, resurrected, with a few edits.
For a couple of years, I have been paralyzed. When I sit down to write, nothing comes out. When I start to design, I stare at a blank canvas. My ability to create things does not meet my own ridiculously high standards of quality, so I get stuck in an endless loop of making decent things, throwing them away, and then starting over from scratch. I’ve been floating around in despair, a creativity limbo, which has nearly destroyed me. I stopped working. I became depressed. In a last ditch effort to restart my brain, I left; I bought a one-way plane ticket to Bali with the hope that culture shock would inspire me to make great stuff once again.
That was several months ago, and while I now feel more inspired and energized than ever, the paralytic gap between my actual ability to create and my unachievable sense of what constitutes “good enough” remains. I simply cannot make things that are good enough for myself. This problem festers in my thoughts, and it causes me to doubt myself at every turn.
The truth is that perfection is impossible and “good enough” is good enough. Logically, I know this. But as a designer, this task is insurmountably difficult. It feels like defeat. Accepting good enough instead of absolutely amazing is a tacit admission that I am not good enough to create things that meet the same level of quality that I demand from others when I evaluate creative work. My taste exceeds my own ability.
It’s interesting that the source of my internal battle lies buried in something as innocuous as “taste”. For most people, taste is just the basis of opinion. It describes the point at which something flips from being “not good enough” to “ok, decent”. But for creative people, it’s something different. Taste is everything. It is what drives us. It is the definition of success, the ceiling of what is possible, and the source of everlasting internal frustration. Being creative is a battle fought over the slow conversion of a mere idea into something tangible that you think is great. The question is: When do you stop the conversion process?
I think these impossible internal standards about what is 'good enough' or 'really a new idea' are pretty universal, both in creative and noncreative people. The only difference between the two groups is that noncreative people have given up on being 'good enough' or 'creative enough' to meet those standards. I find that the only way to stay creative is to constantly try to force myself to ignore those internal voices.
Because of its importance to the region’s Māori people, New Zealand’s Whanganui River is legally a person, with rights, duties, and liabilities, including the right to be represented in court proceedings.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said the river will be recognized as a person “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests.”
Gerrard Albert, lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi (tribe), said, “We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as an indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management.”
In 2011, residents of Ecuador sued the provincial government of Loja on behalf of the Vilcabama River to stop a road-widening project that was forcing rocks and debris into the watershed. A “rights of nature” provision in Ecuador’s constitution permits people to sue on behalf of an ecosystem. A judge decided in favor of the river, and the municipality had to cancel the project and rehabilitate the area.
A new game now tops those rankings: It’s called Gloomhaven, and it’s the current BoardGameGeek No. 1, having taken over the top spot this past winter. The game has won scads of awards, including more than a handful of Golden Geeks and a Scelto dai Goblin — the goblins’ choice. Its place atop the BoardGameGeek list cements its status as a flagship of the current golden age.
The BoardGameGeek list is valuable real estate in high-end board gaming, and the No. 1 spot is, of course, the prime position — Boardwalk, if you will.1 Only seven games have occupied it since the site launched in 2000. The seven No. 1s are a motley bunch, including a civilization-building game set in the ancient fertile crescent and a war game set in the 1910s. But they all have something that speaks to what’s en vogue among the kind of people who go online to rate board games: intensive strategy.
But the site recognizes that its most highly rated games aren’t all for everyone. “As with any other medium — books, movies, music, etc. — you can’t just pick whatever is rated No. 1 on some chart and expect it to provide a great experience for you,” said W. Eric Martin, a BoardGameGeek news editor. “You should look for games that match your interests.”
Now it’s Gloomhaven’s turn to try to interest you. Years ago, Isaac Childres, the game’s designer, like many budding board gamers, got his start in “serious” gaming with Settlers of Catan, then logged on to BoardGameGeek and worked his way down its empirically ranked list: the strategic farming of Agricola, the capitalistic infrastructure of Power Grid, the castle building of Caylus. The list, in many ways, dictates board-game culture. It represents an aggregated consensus of early adopters and fervent fanatics, which then trickles down to the broader gaming public — and to future star game designers of top-ranked games.
In Gloomhaven (which retails for $215), “players will take on the role of a wandering mercenary with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this remote corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins.” The game’s website likens it to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. Just don’t forget your swords or spells. Childres attributes his game’s success, at least among the hardcore denizens of BoardGameGeek, to the way it improves on the appeal of the roleplaying of Dungeons & Dragons, in which crawling dungeons can become rote. In Gloomhaven, you have special abilities that you can use over and over, and once you use them, you can watch them make cool stuff happen. It’s heavy on the fun stuff, rather than the grind of repetitious orc slaying, and as the BoardGameGeek leaderboard shows, gamers are appreciative.
The BoardGameGeek rankings, similar to movie rankings on IMDb, are based on user ratings, which run from 1 to 10.2 Gloomhaven (8.62 Geek Rating) benefits from ratings that are extremely heavy on the 10s — more than half of its raters gave it that maximum score. Contrast this with former No. 1s such as Agricola, whose ratings follow a more expected bell curve that’s centered around 8, or Twilight Struggle, which is about equally weighted on 8s, 9s and 10s. Only Pandemic Legacy,3 the No. 1 before Gloomhaven took over, is nearly as heavy on the 10-point ratings. Even still, Gloomhaven’s average user rating (which is slightly different from its Geek Rating) is a full 0.35 points higher than the second-place game, which may help it cement a lengthy legacy.
Most of the older No. 1s took a while to climb there, having been released years earlier and having slowly earned enough high ratings from loyal fans to rise to the top. Gloomhaven has been different: It was released just last year, and even then only to its Kickstarter backers. It isn’t available for wide public sale quite yet. So its raters so far are likely a specific subset of the gaming culture — people who find the concept so appealing that they were willing to shell out cash for a game that didn’t exist yet. “For the most part, people don’t rate games that they haven’t played,” Martin said.
Given Gloomhaven’s dramatically skewed ratings, are the geeks running out of room atop their list? As the top Geek Rating inches closer and closer to the perfect 10, it will become harder and harder to dislodge the No. 1. The game has its haters, of course. “Very over hyped game,” one user wrote this month, rating it a 3. But those who hope to see it ousted, and to see their favorite to take over, may have a while, or an eternity, to wait. When you’re rating on a 1-to-10 scale, a game can only go so high, after all.
But there will always be incremental progress, in human endeavor generally and in board game design specifically. “Human athleticism always seems to be increasing,” Childres said. “There’s always someone who is able to reach farther and farther limits, for whatever reason, maybe some small-scale human evolution. Board games are evolving as well, standing on the shoulders of the great games and iterating on them.”
A few weeks ago I visited Copenhagen to give a guest lecture at the Technical University of Denmark. Afterwards I was interviewed by by Michael Fleron (DTU) and John Ryding Olsson for a new book on strategy and leadership. John gave me one of the first just printed copies of the book Half double – Projects in half the time with double the impact he wrote together with Michael Ehlers, Karoline Thorp Adland and Niels Ahrengot. In the book, John wrote “I hope the book will give you some inspiration” and it definitely did!
The book was co-created through a series of events, attended by more than 2000 participants, in close collaboration with project practitioners. As soon as a chapter was written, it became available for feedback.
There are eight chapters in the book. In the introduction chapter the authors look back and explain why the old way of working will not work in the more and more uncertain and rapidly changing future. In the five following chapters we get an overview of the new methodology, its philosophy and principles, and in-depth chapters about the four building blocks (core element) of the methodology to achieve double the impact in half the time: impact, flow, leadership and local translation. Every building block is explained, including three execution methods and corresponding tools, templates and processes as well as detailed case studies. The last chapter is dedicated to portfolio management using the same building blocks into account.
Impact: It’s all about stakeholder satisfaction. This is the ultimate success criterion. The following three methods and tools to create impact are explained:
Build the impact case to drive behavioral change and business impact by using the impact case tool (case GN Audio)
Design your project to deliver impact as soon as possible by using the impact solution design tool (case GN Audio)
Be in touch with the pulse of your key stakeholders by using the pulse check tool (case: Velux).
Flow: High intensity and frequent interaction in project work, learning and impact. The following three methods and tools are explained to create flow:
Allocate core team members for minimum of 50% of their time and ensure co-location by using the co-location tool (case: Siemens Wind Power)
Increase insight and commitment using visual tools and plans by using the rhythm in key events tool (case: GN Audio)
Set a fixed project heartbeat to progress the project in sprints by using the visual planning tool (case: Danfoss).
Leadership: As a leader you must embrace uncertainty and make the project happen. The following three methods and nine behaviors to create leadership in your project are explained:
Be an active, committed and engaged project owner by using active ownership behaviors: own the impact (pave the way for impact and remove unnecessary bureaucracy), ensure resource commitment including 50% allocation of high caliber people and show up (engage with the project, at least two hours a week) (case: Novozymes)
Be a collaborative leader with a people first attitude by using collaborative leadership behaviors: lead the impact (being hard on the impact and flexible on the deliverables), facilitate and energize interactions and put people first by creating purpose, autonomy and mastery (case: Velux)
Apply a reflective and adaptive mindset by using a reflective and adaptive mindset: listen intensely, frame the issue and help to move the team forward (case: Lantmännen).
Local translation: Successful translation of the half double methodology requires commitment to three methods and tools:
Build a half double mindset to initiate the half double approach using the half double mindset tool (case: SAS Scandinavian Airlines)
Customize governance to ensure flow by using the governance customization tool (case: GN Audio)
Anchor the half double practice to pave the way for new results by using the reflective map tool (case: Velux).
The last chapter focusses on half double portfolio leadership using again three methods:
Make strategy and portfolio fit to create strategic impact
Short and fat portfolio with frequent strategic adjustment (this is key. Courageous prioritization is the means!)
Portfolio leadership team and ownership.
Conclusion. An easy to read, great colorful layout, energizing and inspirational book. The theory and hand-on principles and tools are explained and the real life examples make this book a must read for those who are directing or running projects in this more and more rapidly changing world and for those who would like to move away from some outdated ways of thinking and running projects.