Saturday, 28 November 2009

No cow on the ice

"There is no cow on the ice"

This is a very well known Swedish proverb. Well, in Sweden at least.

It means "There's nothing to worry about ... yet." No need to panic yet, we still have (some) time.

The proverb above is actually just a short version of:
"There is no cow on the ice as long as its behind is still ashore"
which maybe makes more sense. No need to panic, yet, the whole cow is not on the ice yet. We still have time.

Having a cow on ice can be a rather interesting adventure I guess. So, as long as the cow is only halfway on the ice there is no need to panic. But as soon as all of the cow is on ice you need to worry... Cows are not well designed to walk on ice.

Why should there be cows on the ice anyway? Well, Sweden have lots of lakes and large archipelagos. And there is also ice on these lakes and water in the winter of course. So, relocating cows using iced lakes and waters was not uncommon. Might be a lot easier as well than using small ferries to transport cows in summer.

"There is no cow on the ice."

One of the best Swedish proverb around. And when using it you should never ever use the long version.

(In Swedish: "Det är ingen ko på isen" - and a long version: "Det är ingen ko på isen så länge rompan är på land.")

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A thought about Monty Hall

There is a classic problem called the Monty Hall problem. (Here you can read about it

Lets explore an interesting twist on this. Lets use three cards instead of three doors. One of the cards is a King. The other two something else. The three cards are on the table showing the back side.

Carol now picks one of the card - but she does not turn it. The Game Host Eric now turns on of the other two. He shows Carol (and the audience!) that it is not the King. Eric then puts the card in his pocket.

Let us assume we have the version of the Monty Hall-problem where the game host always shows a non-winning card (i.e. he knows where the King is and select a non-King to show and put in pocket).
He then asks Carol if she wants to swap cards, i.e. picking the other card on the table. Should she?

Yes, she should swap. When Carol picked the first card probability for her was 1/3 to pick the King. And 2/3 that the King was among the other two. When Eric reveals a non-King nothing changes really. And by swapping Carol will increase her odds to win. (Read more in the wikipedia article!)

Let us also assume that John now enters the room from a short bathroom visit. What he see is a table with one card close to Carol. And another card closer to Eric. John asks the person sitting next to him what the game is about - and neighbor responds: "One of those cards is a King. And Carol can keep her card or switch to the other. If she gets the King she wins."
John do not know that there was a third card. (Now in Eric's pocket)

Carol is now convinced she should swap cards and that the odds for her to win would then be 2/3. (Again: Check the wikipedia article to see why the odds are like that. Remember that the game hosts knows where the King is.)

John on the other hand is convinced that the odds for winning if she swap cards is 1/2. Two cards on the table - one if King. Simple as that.

So, now we have two persons in the same room. Seeing the same table and cards. But they are convinced that probability for win if swapping are different.

Who is right? Are they both right?

If Eric now would tell John about the third card and how Eric put it in his pocket. Should Eric rethink the probability? Will past event influence probability from Johns perspective? Would a hidden card from the past in Eric's pocket change John's calculations?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Questions & words - revisited

Thinking about questions and "what" and "who". And looking up a classic piece on how to put forward questions and how to answer these correctly. And yet, in this scene the answers create more confusions than knowledge. Or?

Here is one of many versions:


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Question words

We have questions words to explore and get answers. They work in different ways and are many times also received differently.
Do not just jump in and fire away all your 5W1H questions. They are different tools. Just like hammer and saw are different tools for a carpenter.

what? is used to establish. Fact oriented. "What is that?" "What happened?" "What are going to do?" Often a rather neutral word. Will rarely create any upset feelings.

where? do not establish - but used to clarify. Cannot stand on its own. No danger in using this question. Just clarifying something.

when? is also a clarifying question. Often related to something we learned from the "what?"

who? is getting tougher. Now we want to know who did something or who should do something. We are touching on responsibilities and blame (or reward!). Not a good question to start with. And who-questions can also create feelings and emotions.

why? is the hardest. Now we search for justification or reason. "Why did you do that?", "Why does it work that way?" We are asking for opinions and justifications. We are not creating actions with "why". Watch out with this one. It is nice to know why something happens or why we should do it. But it is a risky question.

how? is an action trigger. With how you either trigger problem solving or story-telling. "How did it happen?" "How can we do this?" No blame - just a request to tell a story. This is also the question that best engages the other person. We are talking to the other persons knowledge and intelligence and asks for a story or solution.
This is not always fact-based so the answer can be more "free".

This is of course over-simplified. But consider that question words are different. What do you want to achieve? Are you running a trial? Solving a problem? Looking for a way forward? The different tools will shape the discussion, responses and relation differently.

Select your tools wisely!

I like the "how"-tool best. But I also use all the other questions too.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

About your love

This is what your love does to me:

Yes, that's right. Your love keeps lifting me higher, higher, higher and higher.

And I would not be surprised if there are songs using this theme..

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Four types of "dialogues"

There are many types of discussions and dialogues. Recently I have found that I sometime think I am in one of the types - while the other part is acting as if he is doing another type. Very confusing!

Here are four different types of dialogues.

Think of the dialogue as a dog-fighting arena. You and some other person meet at the arena and you bring your "systems" there - to the "battlegroud". You let the systems into the arena and then the dialogue starts.

In the first example (top left) person A (pA) brought system A (sA) and person B brought system b. Both will now argue to make their system win this fight. To find out which system is the best. There will be arguments and pro and cons and similar. And the focus will be the tension between the two systems. Pretty much like two dogs fighting.

In the second (top right) we have Exploring. Here the persons bring their systems. But also possibly let other systems in. Here they look at each other systems and try to figure out how they work. No system is right. Focus is on understanding the systems and how they relate. And also consider other alternatives, like System C and D (sC & sD).

Third example is Building. Here the persons bring their systems. But focus is to build something new. Create something together. The existing systems might be used in whole or as parts. But the focus is on creating something together. Build a new fighting dog (sF).

In the last (bottom right) the persons do not bring anything to the arena. They are more interested in the person and relation. The dialogue is socializing to learn more about the person. Possibly to be able to enter one of the other boxes later. You are often here when you meet someone for the first time.

Imagine what happens if person A think that the dialogue is Arguing - and person B think they are in Exploring or Building. Being in different "boxes" will make it harder for them. And they will not understand what the other person is up to.

If both persons are in same box - the dialogue and understanding will be improved! And the outcome could be understood by both. It is like establishing rules for the "dog fight" and how the arena will be used.

Make sure you are in same box...

Friday, 6 November 2009


This is me. Back in 2001. Well, it was my avatar in the online game Anarchy Online. This is a Sci-Fi based game with people from all over the playing, eh, interacting. Not as popular now as back then. (Game developed by Norwegian company Funcom)

To better understand gaming and game industry I back then volounteered as game reviewer for a couple of web-sites. I received a few games every week, played and wrote. And for some game - like Anarchy Online - I received a free game account. And being part of an online game was a very interesting experience. Not so much for the technical details or gameplay - but for the social interactions with all sorts of people. Some playing in-game roles - some just reflecting themselves into the game.

I was a role player. My solder was brave and loyal. And not focusing on being the strongest - but the kindest. Playing a female role was a great advantage back then. Even though I suspect that all people knew I was "man" - they still acted as if I was a girl. Well, I was a girl -ingame - but the boundaries netween real and in-game are very fast blurred.

I married a brute enforcer that took care of me. And I even had a sweet little sister. It was all a huge experiment. Fun, rewarding and great for learning how to meet different people. Most people were kind - and some were the opposite. Since I decided to be the kindest I never had any enemies. I befriended even the most awkward and rude.

Well, it was all fun and play.

Until September 11 , 2001. It was amazing how that event not only changed the world. But also the interaction in-game. The discussions were intense. Lots of people afraid and looking for support and comfort ingame.

Every chat-channel in-game were filled with the lively discussions about "why, what, how, whats next why, WHY?"

Having the ingame chat we were all brought together. People from New York reported ingame, sharing with people from Russia, Norway and anywhere. We spent a lot of time trying to support each other. But also working together in the game. The tool - the game - brought us together, made the world smaller and less scary.

What we saw in-game back then was probably pretty much what we today would see in Facebook, Twitter and similar if happened today.

Hopefully these tools are bringing us closer together today. Day by day. Tweet by tweet. Bringing common understanding. And understanding and acknowledging each other perspectives.

The tools should not support us after the disaster. The tools should help us prevent it.

I am hopeful.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

About a good laugh

"Nobody likes a good laugh more than I do… except, perhaps my wife… and some of her friends. Oh, yes, and Captain Johnson. Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that’s beside the point!"

(Graham Chapman line from Monthy Python)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

X and Xing - revisited

Since I included no graphic in last post about X and Xing I am now revisiting this topic with some illustration.

Sometime we see it like: (Green is useful - and solid green is "goal")

We have a neutral process producing some result X. And we think of X as the goal and our focus area. But even if X is our goal we could focus on the process. Focusing on the process can improve the quality and make it a lot more rewarding. Like this: (The yellow border indicates focus area)

And often X is not the goal. It is just something that will be used in another process. When we are cooking to create dinner - dinner is not the end-goal. It will be used in another process - eating. Like this:

And here us the beautiful part when we focus on the process instead of the result. The process will actually help us take the next step - run the next process.

When we are cooking we will prepare for our eating as well. We will get more hungry perhaps. And we will touch and feel all the ingredients. We also learn how the meal is preparaed so that we better can eat and enjoy it. And while cooking dinner we can socialize with our dinner guests and make the dinner conversation even more interesting.

Like this:

Here the "Knowledge", "Preparation" and "Socializing" contributes to the next process ("Ying"). And there are more elements that could be outcome of Xing that will contribute to Ying.

The same goes for planning. The plan is nothing. But the plan will be used in some other process. Running a project, fighting a war, celebrating an uncle etc.

And even when Xing do not directly contribute to Ying we still have more knowledge, socialized a bit, prepared something and had some fun. We have only won things!

So - do not focus too much on "end-result" - but use the processes as a learning and preparation stage to make next steps even more rewarding. And while at it - Have fun!