I'm remembering that time in 2019 when Jessica Hulter and I learned of a mass forced migration of Portuguese man o' wars onto the East side of Oahu due to winds. The odd little blobs were being beached by the thousands, by the millions, so of course we went to welcome them. We had only just arrived … Continue reading Beautiful Blobs, Enabling Constraints, Assemblages…
Sweeping: A Metaphor
Your metaphor of the day is sweeping the floor with a broom, inspired by some thoughts that crept into my head as I was sweeping the kitchen and living-room--a task now abandoned so that I can get some of these ideas down... Brooms are actually a very weird type of technology if you think about … Continue reading Sweeping: A Metaphor
Bureaucracy: Machines & Pilots
Bureaucracy, as described by the sociologist Max Weber, is rational. Bureaucracy is how we logically create standardized and efficient systems of exchange, of competition, of distribution of labor at scale. It is rational in an abstract sense, when you abstract it away from the human, when you average people out and line them up and … Continue reading Bureaucracy: Machines & Pilots
Reflecting on Challenge Coins
I'm not a fan of every military tradition, but I do like challenge coins. They're these weird, heavy little tokens which can be imbued with substantial memory and meaning. But it isn't the item that holds the meaning, is it? Perhaps it would best be described as an augmentative interface that equips us to better … Continue reading Reflecting on Challenge Coins
Influence Over Design
I came up with this silly metaphor to describe the problem of giving inordinate power to the wrong people for the implementation of design decisions. Imagine a house was designed by an architect who did research into how the structure would be used and by whom. The first floor is where the owners, a couple, … Continue reading Influence Over Design
On Actually Embracing Actual Failure
Do not attempt to tackle complex, wicked problems without amply anticipating and preparing for the very real possibility of failure: On every attempt and at every stage. I'm talking about actual failure- not safe, fun, exciting failure or even safe failure, because it might not ever be emotionally 100% safe. I'm talking about the real stuff. The painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing type of failure. The kind you look in the eye and learn from... that looks back and tells you things you didn't know or care to admit...
Thoughts on Sports
All of the conversation, anxiety, and support around Simone Biles saying "no" to playing a game this week has me thinking about our societal relationship to sports again. It's something I think about a lot because of my experience with the price of playing games. When I was young, I repeatedly injured my knees and my ankles playing … Continue reading Thoughts on Sports
Mapping Organizational Ecosystems: Artifacts & Rituals; Tribes & Institutions
This is an excerpt (Part 3) of an essay in progress to describe developing perspectives and practices for mapping organizational ecosystems. I recently facilitated a workshop with Agitare, the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and the Federal Innovation Network to explore how we view, create, and use maps of our massive, interconnected community, and how co-created and inter-subjective approaches … Continue reading Mapping Organizational Ecosystems: Artifacts & Rituals; Tribes & Institutions
Expertise as Limiting; Uncertainty as Enabling
There's a common manifestation of "The Expert" in every field--one who has allowed the weight of their accumulated knowledge and experience to drag them down into an unfortunate state of certainty. The Expert has gained so much confidence in their field and craft that they see themselves as qualified, empowered, and even obligated to make … Continue reading Expertise as Limiting; Uncertainty as Enabling
When people show you who they are… don’t believe them?
People really like to share that quote from Maya Angelou that goes "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". I am an enormous fan of the poet Maya Angelou, but this quote has always bothered me, mostly because of how incompatible it appears to be with a growth mindset, and … Continue reading When people show you who they are… don’t believe them?