Shot Clock

I am writing this entry on a regional flight from Killeen TX to IAH en route to BOS.

A few minutes ago we took off and I heard those proverbial words - please turn off all iPads, iPods, etc. It’s amazing mobile device advertising really.

And it springs me into action. Because I know that my 3G signal is on a different band, and I have just under 5 minutes before I lose touch with the outside world. Remember - it’s 2013 and the large majority of planes still have yet to harness the power of satellite wifi.

But while I respect all of the other overarching rules, somehow I feel that this one in particular does not pertain to me. And maybe that’s because it makes me so damn productive. Wow - do my fingers fly faster than ever as those once dull emails become a challenge . I once heard a story of a famous rapper who had a 5 minute hourglass he would use to time tasks and thus, maintain a sense of productivity.

And I know exactly why. It’s simple. Life demands a shot clock.

In conventional American basketball, the shot clock is defined as the 20 seconds that a team has with the ball in their possession to get the ball in the hoop. I think there a few other rules surrounding it, but that’s the basic concept. And one can extrapolate that concept to the game itself. 4 periods. That’s it.

Unless you go into overtime, if your points aren’t high enough you are toast.

What I am not evincing is a Vince Lombardi-esque manifesto saying to win at all costs, tough those ideas certainly have their place, but rather - time pressure, when in a situation that matters, is an amazing motivator.

To try my hand at a Yogi Berra style notion: you won’t get anything done if you don’t get anything done.

And the shot clock demands execution. It doesn’t care about your delinquent committee, or that you’re operating in the face of uncertainty or how your day was. It only cares about one thing: tick-tock, tick-tock.

I think that the best designs come out of positive constraints, and that time pressure, when well-informed, can be one of the best forces for good. My case-du-jour here is and can only be the fiscal cliff. The stakes were high enough to outweigh nearly inevitable brinksmanship in our largely bipartisan Congress.

And so - this blog post is also an example of shot clock. 15-20 minutes of cruising altitude, 4% of my iPad’s battery, one disobeyed shut-down command, and now we are done.

Preparing for landing…


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