I first saw Ken Robinson at a conference I went to in Berlin a few years ago and was very impressed with him then. I particularly warmed to his thesis that if you analyse it carefully you can see that success in the educational system is defined in terms of producing a university professor.
You can now get a taste of his wit and wisdom from his speech at this years TED here.
I laughed throughout.
I first came across the reminder that dinosaurs,far from being unsuccessful, had been around for longer than mammals and make our history look pretty puny, in one of the late John Brunner‘s novels. So I was pleased to find this fact used as an example again in number 7 of Jamais Cascio‘s “Twelve Things Journalists Need To Know to be Good Futurist/Foresight Reporters”:
“7. Dinosaurs lived for over 200 million years. A favourite pundit cliche is the “dinosaurs vs. mammals” comparison, where dinosaurs are big, lumbering and doomed, while mammals are small, clever and poised for success. In reality, dinosaurs ruled the world for much, much longer than have mammals, and even managed to survive a planetary disaster by evolving into birds. When a futurist uses the dinosaurs/mammals cliche, that’s your sign to investigate why the “dinosaur” company/ organization/ institution may have far greater resources and flexibility than you’re being led to believe.”
On a shorter time span, I wrote a piece at the time of the Tsunami at the end of 2004, with what may also be another reminder of our relative frailty and could be a useful corrective to the arrogance we display about how we live today:
“What we often forget is that our taken for granted world is an experiment that has been running for much less time than the Norse Colonies in Greenland. No doubt for much of the time the Norse thought things were going pretty well for them and ignored the signals that things might not be as they seem.”
One of my daily rituals is to visit Abe Burmeister’s site Abstract Dynamics. His usually thought provoking posts are fairly infrequent, but he does do a good link. (One reason for his infrequent posts may be that he does lots of other things including writing a book, under his other name,William Abraham Blaze, “Nomadic Economics” – which you can look at free here and then go and buy here)
One of his recent links that caught my attention was to an article by Richard Farson “Management by Design”. In his conclusion he remarks:
“Design has many definitions, but if design is the creation of form, then it surely applies directly to leadership and management. Everything we see and hear and do has form. By its form, everything sends a metamessage. Therefore, everything is amenable to design. If we are going to seriously and systematically incorporate the approaches of social design into management, we have much to learn, and much to invent. But we can do this with the comfort of knowing that we are embracing the perspectives and approaches of an ancient, distinguished and thriving discipline, with greater relevance for the 21st century than ever before.”
I point to this article for two reasons. The first is that it deserves to be read and ponder upon. The second is that it gives me an excuse to point to some of my earlier posts that relate to aspects of what he is talking about and contain links that amplify some of his points:
“The Designer as a Good Host”
“The Manager as a Designer”
“Nobody smokes in church”
“The Design of Possibilities”
Just got a bed from Muji. It slotted together in a matter of minutes. No pain, no fittings to screw in, just good design. (And much cheaper than the collapsed bed it replaced.) If only all flat pack furniture were like this.
I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of “Peoplewar: Productive Projects and Teams” by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister, which I ordered immendiately after reading some extracts on Kevin Kelly’s excellent Cool Tools site. My favourite extract that rang a number of bells from my own experience was this one:
“In my two years at Bell Labs, we worked in two-person offices. They were spacious, quiet, and the phones could be diverted. I shared my office with Wendl Thomis who went on to build a small empire as an electronic toy maker. In those days, he was working on the ESS fault dictionary. The dictionary scheme relied upon the notion of n-space proximity, a concept that was hairy enough to challenge even Wendl’s powers of concentration. One afternoon, I was bent over a program listing while Wendl was staring into space, his feet propped up on the desk. Our boss came in and asked, “Wendl! What are you doing?” Wendl said, “I’m thinking.” And the boss said, “Can’t you do that at home?””