It’s been a few weeks of glorious fall colours. T and I have been making a point of getting out, to bask in some of this precious season while it lasts. (Seasons are so funny—the quintessential part of fall lasts for perhaps a third of the season, followed by at least a month of dreariness. Sigh.)
Inside the house, most of the plants are struggling, after having previously thrived. We think it’s something in the soil—either that, or some airborne infection or invisible pests. (It could be our plant care technique, too, but it’s been a suspiciously coordinated decline.) It’s overwhelming to deal with all of them, hard to accept the loss (or significant trimming) of some beloved green friends. But there’s also, I suppose, some embrace of life’s cycle in doing so, an acceptance of earth passing to earth that comes with this season. So it goes.
Onto the links!
- Mandy Brown critiques the label of “non-technical”—while acknowledging its convenience, and calling for precision and humility. Mandy also points out the gendered nature of the work and labels tied up in “technical” and “non-technical”, the prestige and privilege of the former over the latter. I’ve been doing a fair bit of data and analysis work related to CDS’s talent (workforce? employees? words!) over the last few weeks. One label that feels somewhat helpful is “enabling”, in that it recognizes the essential nature of the work (you can’t work without being enabled to do so!), but I’ve yet to find a wholly comfortable phrasing.
- In doing that talent-related work (data gathering, cleaning, analysis, and presentation), I needed to reacquaint myself with presenting small numbers (i.e., to not use only percentages, theoretically appealing though they can be). Two posts that were helpful: “Sometimes the raw numbers are better than a percentage” and “The (f)law of small numbers and what to do about it” (the latter, amusingly, being almost exactly the situation we were analysing).
- John Gruber with a short takedown of the generic businessperson. Specialization matters—something I often wonder about in the context of public service leadership.
- Calvin Rodo wrote up an excellent overview of CDS’s incident management practices—with a tangible example of it in action and replicable documentation. Also appreciated Bianca Wylie’s response to / riff off it, exploring the significance of an in-house learning culture that expects things to go wrong.
- Calvin’s post introduced me to Heidi Waterhouse, including a post from earlier this year on how to approach work in the face of continued burnout and general uncertainty. The point about prioritizing continuity is I think a key one for me—particularly as someone who’s struggled at times to let go of a role or function.
- At least yearly, the same—or similar—set of authors write an editorial, (rightly) calling attention to Canada’s lack of (and sluggish progress toward) a declassification system for historical government records. As someone who’s set aside a few historical research projects because of the access to information timelines involved, I sympathize deeply. Particularly striking from this article, is that the declassification examples the authors offer from other jurisdictions are for some of the most theoretically sensitive information they hold, records related to national security and intelligence. If it’s possible for natsec elsewhere, surely it’s possible for (at least!) the routine and mundane here.
Oh, my book club just finished reading and discussing Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (which T had originally recommended to me). It’s great—I highly encourage you to read it, if you’d been considering doing so. All the best for the week ahead!