GHDR 2022 August 8 Report: Setting Strategic Horizons

Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by Sri.Tagged PROJECT, GHDR
Reaching

WHAT IS GHDR?

GHDR stands for "Groundhog Day Resolutions. For an explanation, see the GHDR trope entry. This list changes every month in each report.

AUGUST SUMMARY

In August, I am trying a new model I'm calling Following the Strategic Horizon. The observation is that The Strategic Horizon is something you can see way off in the distance, but the details only become clearer as you move toward it. It can be deceptively far away or close, require unplanned detours, and are often fraught with accidents both lucky and unlucky, but if you keep moving something will happen. It's a way to avoid a lot of detailed planning and instead stay adaptable, which I think suits me better.

REVISED PLAN

[ ] A Tangible Deliverable Every Day

- replaces -

  • Bring back Challenge-a-Day
  • Create as part of a social group
  • Track forward achievement only
  • launching dsri media w/ community plan
  • Commit to using SSG for the new dsriseah.com site

[ ] dsriseah.com is Deliverable Stand
[ ] Develop platform as needed
[ ] Identify lines of business on the fly

- replaces -

  • Add image support to Srigarten
  • Deploy Srigarten features
  • Use Discord to Encourage Creative Sanctuary
  • Describe the DSri Creative Mission

[ ] Document discoveries on dsriseah.com
[ ] Document personal insights in squirks

- replaces -

  • Work with ADHD
  • Work with Autism traits
  • Be less angry and sweary
  • Develop more conviction
  • Work with Trans Identity
  • Develop Sri-ness
  • Get over multiplayer anxiety

[ ] Share the Daily Deliverable
[ ] Develop media channels as needed
[ ] Nuture community spaces organically

- replaces -

  • A return to regular blogging!
  • A return to regular streaming!
  • concise video content!
  • connection through media platforms
  • package+share existing process!
  • including DS|CAFE everywhere

TIMELINE

There are some things I need to take care of first, which I've detailed in this post. I'm thinking I should be ready on September 1, 2022 to start pumping out stuff every day (or document why I failed 😊)

Happy August 8! It's been two weeks since I "soft-closed" my most recent 3-year Learning Sciences contract gig. For the past nine years I've been making strange stand-alone Javascript-based systems for NSF research grants, and this last one took a lot out of me. I had to put all my own projects on the backburner for the past two years during the pandemic, and I think I've forgotten how to think entrepreneurially. I'm both recovering from exhaustion and overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices I have in front of me, and my skills in the various arts have grown rusty.

Now that some time has passed, I'm realizing that I do miss one aspect of being in project delivery mode: the singular focus model where all I had to do was worry about writing good code every day to make the system work. The idea of what the system did was very clear in my head, and this tended to make the engineering approach clear to me as well.

I think finding a new singular focus will help, but it's not so much of a goal as it is a direction. This replaces my GHDR Goal Setting with something I'm calling a Strategic Horizon.

Steering for the Horizon instead of Reaching for a Goal

So, let me admit that I suck at sticking to a goal. Whether it is due to my officially-diagnosed ADHD or something else doesn't matter to me. I'm thinking instead of just embracing this in the spirit of structured procrastination and past experiments in gathering-style productivity mixed with a bit of happy bubble time.

Instead of defining "year goals" or even "strategic goals", I'm going to dump them and instead try designating Strategic Horizons that point the way toward a desirable outcome. I had the seeds of this way back in 2009 when I drew this diagram describing a master vantage point:

Reaching for the HorizonReaching for the Horizon (full size image)

Up into now, I had assumed that I just needed to construct some kind of of "productivity machine" that I could operate, and this machine would follow the tenets of what was considered "productive" using what I later called factory style productivity: methodical step-by-step progress toward a set of goals, using tracked metrics and good daily habits to guide myself there.

Now don't get me wrong: on paper this totally works and it works for a lot of people. It just doesn't work very well for me over the long term. I've come to discover that I'm not self-motivated all. Instead, I am us-motivated. I crave the sense of shared interest and equal commitment to make things that aren't stupidly mediocre or (gasp) boring.

Given this personal reality, goals by themselves just feel like prison cells so I think that I need something more open in structure. It's much easier for me to wander toward a direction that seems interesting and seeing what I find. Interestingly, work still get done but it's a far more improvisational approach than a methodical one. What keeps it from falling apart is my reliance on conceptual modeling and systematic understanding to guide my intuition; as a result I work clean most of the time, and it's particularly effective for an experimental mindset like mine.

Strategic horizons...sounds dreamy and romantic doesn't it? That's how Sri likes it!

Making Strategic Horizons Work

If I'm not going to have "goals" and "project plans" and "metrics", how am I going to ensure that useful work gets done? I'm going to try leveraging my past productivity tool conceptsRreferring to the free downloadable Productivity Tools PDFs available on davidseah.com around the process I used in GHDR 2018Namely 'gathering-style productivity' as an alternative to step-by-step 'factory-style' methodology - 2018 Kickoff mixed with the 30 Products in 30 Days ChallengeFor GHDR 2013, I challenged myself to make a new product of some kind every day for February and this was super awesome!.

But first, let's start with some design constraints I'm calling the "Sri Truths" for 2022. There are six of them!

Truth 1. I can't maintain a "singular focus" for the sake of predictable production efficiency.

I've tried many times to be a disciplined practitioner of rational productive methodology, but I don't seem to be wired this way naturally. I just do not have the energy reserves to do more than a few days of this; I require vigorous discussion with outside stakeholders multiple times a day to maintain a sense of immediacy and camaraderie. Otherwise, I wither from the lack of stimulation that often comes with dealing with the mundane details of the work. In the worst case, I become angry at the low quality of resources I have to sift through to get work done, and anger just makes my productivity worse.

In the case of my own personal goals, it's unlikely the external energy will be coming, so I might as well toss this out the window.

Truth 2. I can identify questions and pursue answers as part of researching a hypothesis

This is a strength! I am easily distracted by any question posed to me, especially if I can perceive an immediate need for it or sense the possibility of unearthing a novel solution that goes against any dogma.

Truth 3. I work hard to answer questions thoroughly and well.

This is a strength! My work is even better when someone tells me there is an immediate need for it and I sense there is strong interest in the answer. My work is always more joful if I'm working with other people who are also immersed in the moment.

Truth 4. I am always excited about sharing and exchanging information.

This is a strength that generates value for other people! I really like sharing what I discover, particularly if I think it's a novel or improved answer compared to what was available before. This is practically a compulsion. I believe there is an audience for well-packaged knowledge no matter what it is, even if the audience is really just me.

Truth 5. I have the artistic and technical skills to package what I know in an attractive manner.

Hooray, I have technical software acumen and am fluent with most mainstream forms of media production due to my multidisciplinary education in computer engineering and interactive computer graphics. And before all that, I was training to be a writer. This allows me to be self-sufficient in designing, writing, and producing my own media with software support, so there is nothing in my way except my own inability to stay focused long enough to finish something. I would like to improve this as well as pursue a higher level of polish; for this, I need to ensure that I have adequate incoming energy to keep me motivated!

Truth 6. I'm wise enough to consider buying an off-the-shelf solution if it saves time or heartache.

I have mixed feelings about this because there are so few really great solutions that I like, and I dislike the idea of settling for a mediocre solution. That said, there are hundreds of mediocre solutions out there that do get the job done, and they are also the de-facto way that the world works. I have to pick my battles.

Remixing Truth

For GHDR, the idea is to be self-sufficient in the pursuit of my own creative independenceThis is the idea that I can spend all my time creating things if it also generates enough revenue to support me some-way-some-how. because there is no one else I'm working with. I have no choice but to be independent until I can afford to hire people.

Here's what I have to work with:

  • I like to talk with people as I work on stuff I'm interested and engaged with. I need this conversation, and without it I wither and become despondant if more than 3 days go by like this.
  • I naturally like collecting, packaging, and sharing information. I can't actually help it; it's an exploitable compulsion.
  • I hate feeling trapped by "having" to do things, even if it's something I'm telling myself to do. This built-in resistance is primal and unavoidable, and disappears only when working directly with someone else to do it.
  • I am good at finding answers to questions, if I remember to take the time to identify one when faced with a boring task. Alternatively, I can answer a question that is posed to me without much effort unless I feel I am being exploited.

Given the above, I can set some relaxed rules about how I go about doing productive things in a non-standard way:

  • I am allowed the time to be curious, propose hypothetical solutions, and prove/disprove theories. I am not in a hurry to "finish the work" if a compelling question arises.
  • I may completely avoid so-called "important tasks" as way to do other productive things, so long as it can be justified in some way. This is still productive, albeit unpredictably.
  • I may engage in vigorious and lengthy discussion during the day at any time. This includes time spent on Discord, posting to social media, and direct messaging with people for fun.
  • No matter what, I must package and present something every day. It can be any level of polish. It just has be shareable.

Outlining a Strategic Horizon

With the above rules in place, I need to know what the strategic horizon looks like. This means a mission statement of some kind:

I want to increase the production of sharable stuff, like I did in the "30 Products in 30 Days", because (1) it was very satisfying and (2) creating more anything increases the surface area of opportunity and (3) opportunities will lead to marketable lines of business. The theory is I don't need to make things according to a plan; I just need to make a lot of things and sort them later!

Over time, this will hopefully create a financially self-sustaining enterprise. It is modeled like a research lab with an attached marketing division that maintains a curated "Display Library" and identifies products that can be manufactured, distributed, and exchanged for money or other goods.

A necessary condition is people energy, so the enterprise is structured as an open studio with a virtual cafe attached to it, creating a combined venue for sharing work and engaging in spirited conversation. An important complementary goal is creating a strong community with the expressed values of CURIOSITY, TOLERANCE, OPEN-MINDEDNESS, SELF-EMPOWERMENT, LEADING THROUGH POSITIVE EXAMPLE, GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT, EMPATHY, CONSCIENCIOUSNESS, and KINDNESS.

I think it's important to note how important conversations with people are not only for providing an external sense of motivation, but also for sanity checks that what I'm doing is (1) useful and (2) interesting otherwise they are unlikely to create opportunity of any kind. It's also much more satisfying to make things for other people that you're talking to, and this grants correspondingly higher levels of energy and excitement!

Working Checklist

These new operating principles drastically change the sidebar TODO lists. The system looks something like this:

KEY: Identify a tangible Daily Deliverable every week day

During the explorations of the day, there is always something that can be distilled to a nugget of knowledge, so gather it up into a package that is ready to be shared. It doesn't matter what it is; I can trust myself to deliver something that is interesting in some way.

KEY: Share the Daily Deliverable

What is made must be shared for it to make an impact on the universe. This is very much Concrete Goals TrackerThe CGT is a paper form built on the premise that you got to show something before you will receive a desired result. It uses a points-driven list that tracks against a variation of a sales funnel. logic.

SHARE: Develop Capabilities and Lines of Business

Use dsriseah.com as the "Deliverable Display Stand". Develop platform capabilities as needed. Identify lines of business as they become apparent. This will happen without the requirement for explicit planning, which reduces my cognitive load. The system will improve through deployment of the Daily Deliverable.

CONVERSE: Creating Channels for Communication

Document discoveries and personal insights on dsriseah.com. Develop media channels as needed. Nurture community space daily.

Kicking Off the New System!

I'll start rolling this out this week soon. I'm excited and a little scared, but I have to remember that I can trust myself after having practiced Groundhog Day Resolutions for so long. I have the empirical data from 15+ years of doing these Groundhog Day Resolutions, so let's give everything a shake and see if random productivity is the way to make this work.


GHDR 2022 REPORT INDEX

February 2

Kickoff - Defining the goals for 2022.

March 3

Focus Level Up! - Initial goals cleared. Added "daily making" criteria.

April 4

May 5

Much Mental Processing - Thinking through mental health issues.

June 6

Too Much Work - Burned out on work. No report.

July 7

Back to Meeee! - Work commitments ending, looking forward to focus on my own work.

August 8

Setting Strategic Horizons - Need for "singular focus" stronger than ever. Hypothesizing goal-less strategic planning strategy based on structured procrastination.

also see

Related journal entries Defining Archetypes, Defining Goals, and Defining Operational Goals dig into the conditions for setting strategic horizons. Reboot Complete is the summary of progress made.

September 9

Progress in Four Phases - Warming up to meet my strategic horizon goals took time, but the systems of the past are proving useful in the present!

October 10

TBD

November 11

TBD

December 12

TBD