What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

Psychological safety – that’s the phrase I’ve been searching for.

“Within psychology, researchers sometimes colloquially refer to traits like ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ as aspects of what’s known as psychological safety — a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’ Edmondson wrote in a study published in 1999. ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’”

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team


Shadow Work and the Rise of Middle-Class Serfdom

The cost of “shadow work”: being busy without accomplishing meaningful work.
“You only get so much of the fuel that allows you to focus and gives you the mental energy to tackle the world each day. And what saps this fuel is making decisions, weighing options, and exercising self-control. Shadow work requires all three behaviors, and is thus a huge willpower drainer.”

For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef

This idea of mise-en-place (French for “put in place”)  reminds me how much good preparation goes into effective execution.

“But the key to mise-en-place is not so much the list, but the mindset. Cooks can easily do six hours of prep for a three-hour dinner shift. Mise-en-place forces cooks to account for every minute of their time and, says chef Dwayne Lipuma, every movement.”

For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef

Conversation Cadence

Talking to people in public does not come naturally to me, yet I crave human interaction. Having a history of being in new situations regularly, I figured that I needed to learn the skill of social interaction. It took many awkward conversations before I was comfortable with small talk.

There was a type of person who always fascinated me: charming, full of stories, warm. Often I’d get along with them, but sometimes the conversation was flat.

Around the same time as I was reflecting on these encounters, a friend informed me of his newest hobby: cycling. He explained how cyclists need to find a good cadence – that is, a baseline pedaling rhythm – to set a foundation for their subsequent approach and training for races.

That idea helped me to string along this expression: conversation cadence. Everyone has a rhythm not only in their speech pattern, but also in their thoughts and content.

So now I know that I tend to assess conversation cadence when I meet people. If we both have a rhythm that seems compatible, then it’s likely we’ll have a good time in each other’s company. If we don’t, then it’s okay to politely thank them for the brief chat and walk away. It’s nothing personal, and I’m happy to buzz around a room to find a fruitful conversation.

Honesty vs. Loyalty

Over the course of a recent dinner party, a guest elaborated on a familiar question:

“Do I look fat in this [garment]?”

He went on to say that it was really a question about honesty and loyalty. Does the questioner really want to whether the garment is flattering to the figure? Is the questioner prepared to know that it’s the body underneath the garment that is actually overweight? And is there an underlying inquiry about sustained commitment in spite of deviation from a public perspective of beauty and fitness?

Worthwhile consideration before answering the question. Proceed with caution!