Bad taste

Saying that taste is just personal preference is a good way to prevent disputes. The trouble is, it’s not true. You feel this when you start to design things.

~ Paul Graham from,

I’m not certain about “good” taste. I’m not convinced that there’s an objectively good measure of, well, good taste. I think too much of what some would say is “good,” is actually rooted in the current culture.

But I feel comfortable saying that there is such a thing as bad taste. There are clear reasons, for which one can present a clear case, why things are gauche. There’re clear situations and choices that are in bad taste. Mind you, I can readily imagine art which is intentionally in bad taste; that’s a good thing because art’s purpose is (sometimes) to push the envelope or to change society and culture. But in general, bad taste exists.


How do you create culture?

I’ve become increasingly interested in how culture is created within teams. One part is clearly modeling the behavior one wants to see. But I’ve been spending time thinking about how I talk to others about goals, challenges and setbacks. The more I look, the more I see I’m faced with so many interwoven elements: Communication—synchronous, asynchronous, mixed?; Feedback—positive, negative, immediate, delayed, public, private; Goal setting—team, individual, conservative, challenging, insane; Growth; Trust; Shared vision; Shared mission; Morals …

I find myself focusing almost entirely on communication. I try to spend as much time as possible explaining what I’m thinking and what my goals and visions are. At the sametime, the better I get at asking questions, the better I get at understanding what’s going on. There’s a balance. Too little conveying of direct instruction and concrete goals leaves some people struggling to grow. The opposite is also true; Too much and some people are stiffled.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice.

So what’s a question you ask your teammates that has led to surprising insights?