Absent with apologies.

Principles of design, the Mr Laremy way.

A long time ago, a friend asked why we write ‘Absent with Apologies’ on minutes.

“If it were me, I’d write it as ‘Absent with Glee’ instead,” she said, “because I’d much rather be absent from a meeting than in it!”

Thenceforth, I decided that if I were to ever run a company or an organisation, my first mandate would be to instruct my minute-taking minions to only ever write ‘Absent with Glee’ instead of ‘Absent with Apologies’.

Otherwise, they’d find themselves the next ones listed under the ‘Absent with Apologies’ column at the next meeting.


‘Absent with Apologies’ makes sense, because it’s much more polite than just being plain ‘Absent’.

But I’ve been absent from this space with both apologies and some degree of glee, because I’ve been busy, mainly with work.

On that note, I thought I’d share with everyone something that transpired in the classroom today – this is one of those things that has resulted in my absence.

If I can refer you to the picture above again, you can see I’ve listed out some principles for good idea design, especially ideas involving getting human beings to carry out things you want them to do.

I decided to write this down today because:

  • I found myself repeating stuff I had said before yet again because the kids hadn’t really understood what I was telling them. Or perhaps what I was telling wasn’t making sense.
  • This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I think this is one of the easiest ways to understand what makes ideas work.

For those of you without image suppork, what is written on the board in the pig-ture is as follows:

Mr Laremy’s Principles for GI = EE.

  1. Human beings are animals (piglets) – regulations/processes are needed (DON’T ASSUME THEY WILL DO IT).
  2. Human beings are like currents – they follow the path of least resistance (MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO DO IT).

From (1) and (2): [Create] INCENTIVE [for them to do what you want them to do].

If you [yourself] won’t carry out the idea, don’t suggest it!

I hope there’s some kind of ‘meta’ element to this i.e. I hope what I wrote on the board fulfills those two principles.

In any case, the juxtaposition of the student and the ideas on the board is quite unfortunate, but you have it on good authority that this is her default look… LOL.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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