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Odds and Ends - Notebook-driven development, ASEAN, and Operational Excellence

Author

TJ Palanca

Published

August 14, 2022

From the field notes

  • I dove into {nbdev} from fast.ai, which is a way of developing python software purely from notebooks, which sounds terrifying at first, but becomes a little more sane upon looking in detail. See this article for their announcement post for nbdev v2 and integration with Quarto. I ultimately ended up deciding not to adopt this approach in the end, because:

    • It lacks good editor support - I would love for an extension to help with these #| comments similar to what Quarto has done with its VS Code extension,
    • it’s tied to {setuptools} and doesn’t integrate with pyproject.toml and {poetry} - I love {poetry}’s dependency management and can’t abandon it for nbdev, and
    • there’s just a lot of boilerplate which is just a personal preference.

What I’ve been reading

  • Even Superman cannot solve the Myanmar problem - One of my favorite newsletters focusing on ASEAN writes about the difficulties ASEAN has in exerting leverage on the Myanmar junta to create a peaceful resolution to the current coup. It highlights how without any serious attempt at more economic and political integration, the bloc will not be able to withstand both internal and external pressure.

  • People-first data stacks (Original) - It’s a good reminder to ensure that good product management practices are adopted whenever we attempt migrating to new “Modern Data Stack” tech. Adoption is not just a function of fit-for-purpose products but also a process that encourages proper data tool adoption.

  • HBR - Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management? (Original) - This is an old one from 2017, but I think the findings are durable:

    • It’s hard to achieve operational excellence even with the right structures in place, due to the high variance in management quality across and within countries.
    • Imporving management practice is just as costly as capital investment (buildings and equipment)
    • Good management correlates with performance 1
    • Ultimately \(\text{Results} = \text{Strategy} \times \text{Execution}\), and it’s important to instill in managers that “being strategic” (always a point of constructive feedback given to first-time managers) does not substitute for operational excellence.
  • 1 One skeptical thought though is that because this is based on a survey, the causality might be reversed - good performance is associated with increased investment in management practices due to lower pressure.