The power of attitude

What I learned about this week:

Reduce Work In Progress (WIP)

Work In Progress is unfinished work. It’s easy to start lots of things at once and not have anything finished. Reducing the amount of Work in Progress is a key driver to productivity across a number of work and productivity systems — agile, lean, and personal todo lists.

Reducing WIP allows you to ship, learn, and adjust more quickly.

It’s why these circles are moving at the same speed, but the right one completes loops much, much faster.

John Cutler talks about this and more in a blog post about creating flow and value in product development. What I love most about these principles is that they apply beyond product development at work.

Mental Models are your Tool Box

Farnum Street is one of my favorite blogs. I often reference their post about 109 mental models. This week I was reviewing their snippet about the law of diminishing return as I’ve been using a the similar inverted-U curve model in my work.

A mental model is a representation of how something works. Understanding what a mental model is and figuring out which few to use most often in your work elevates your productivity and flow.

The quality of our thinking is proportional to the models in our head and their usefulness in the situation at hand. The more models you have—the bigger your toolbox—the more likely you are to have the right models to see reality. It turns out that when it comes to improving your ability to make decisions variety matters.

The Power of Attitude

Someone recorded an airline employee having a lot of fun with his job marshalling planes. You can tell he’s having a great day (or at least making it a great one). It’s easy to take ourselves too seriously and forget to have fun. I love that it shows him getting the job done well and having a fantastic attitude about his work.

I can imagine this impacts other parts of his life as well as those he works with. What would change for the better if you adjusted your attitude at work or at home for the activity you find most trying?

The Last 5%

One last thing I was reminded of this week is how easy underestimating time required for projects can be — especially the last 5%. Our team was proud to launch a major update to our site this week at Sprintwell. That last bit of work before you release is always a little more challenging than it seems it will be when you start. It’s the biggest reason I’m a fan of shipping small and incrementing vs trying to do it all at once.


Thanks for reading. Let me know if anything highlighted here was particularly insightful. And I always love hearing from others, “What have you learned about lately?”

Ryan Seamons

You can find last week’s email here.


What I published this week