2021-12-13 4 min read


Notes, 2021-12-13.

The end of the year is a time for reflection. One of my concerns over the past year has been the continued erosion of corporate camaraderie as remote work seems here to stay. Culture is hard to get right, and administering it over Slack and Zoom only makes it that much more difficult.

One thing that can help foster a healthy culture is productive feedback. If you’re not a part of The Great Resignation, then you’re likely having a yearly performance review with your manager soon. A useful framework for having these discussions comes from Laszlo Bock, former head of People Analytics at Google. He recommends a manager ask these three questions:

  1. What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do?
  2. What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often?
  3. What can I do to make you more effective?

These appear in The Culture Code, a book I recommend, and I’ve used them to both give and receive feedback with great results. If we are able to be honest with each other about our strengths and weaknesses, then we can grow together to accomplish more in 2022 - despite whatever challenges lie ahead.

Happy Holidays,

Sean Kelley

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~14% of opens) was a clip of a cyclist stretching into a superman pose mid-race. In the Members' Slack, we've been chatting about knolling, cow magnets, and getting so drunk you implement the Toyota Production System. If you can't get enough stories about making things, join the real-time conversation.

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • Apple announced a self service repair program to make parts, tools, and manuals available to consumers. Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, responded on Twitter showing support for Apple’s departure from their previous strategy. I used to replace my own cracked iPhone screens until after iPhone 6, when doing so disabled touchID. Apple claimed this was a security feature so that someone couldn’t steal your phone and swap your touchID module, but more recently they disabled faceID on iPhone 13 when replacing the screen - without justification. This is just one of many examples of Apple working against repairability over the years, but nevertheless I’m looking forward to reading more details of the new program.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • A laser tracker is a highly accurate and portable measurement device capable of measuring within microns over many meters. I’ve used them to measure the accuracy of a robot moving across a room; they use a laser to track a small spherical reflector placed on the part. Here is a video demonstrating how a laser tracker can be used to measure an entire railroad car.
  • A look at the $11 billion Webb telescope with illustrative graphics of its capabilities. I am amazed at the sheer amount of time, effort, and money that goes into a project like this. It started in 1997, when I was three years old, with a budget of $500 million. When I was a nanosatellite intern at NASA Ames in 2014, my manager would reference the cost of Webb as a rationale for why nanosatellite projects were so appealing. Now, three decades and $10 billion extra dollars since its inception, Webb is set to launch in a few weeks. Assuming the deployment goes well, I still think it will be worth it.


A crab bridge on Christmas Island.

Read the full story

The rest of this post is for SOW Subscribers (free or paid) only. Sign up now to read the full story and get access to all subscriber-only posts.

Sign up now
Already have an account? Sign in
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Scope of Work.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.