Archive for August, 2012

We Need A Metaphorical Language To Help Us Re-Member Hidden Knowledge

I just read this article. The following inspired me: “What we may be talking about are right brain/left brain finally coming into focus and that point of focus may very well be the long dormant “Penile” gland. The fact may be that our brain, as awesome as it is, may not even be turned on yet. What we need is a new genre, a metaphorical language that is coherent to both the scientist and the metaphysician. For it to be relevant to both sides, there have to be truths which are held self evident by both sides.”

So it looks like self-evidence might be the key to get both scientists and metaphysicans together. So they can open up for each others “truths”. For example the metahphor “to love beauty is to see light” might be viewed from both scientifical and metaphysician point of view. And their corresponding truths might turn out to amplify each other, provided they are open towards each others “truth”. Now wouldn’t that give science a whole new kickstart? Happy truth hunting! 

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What Puzzles Me…

What puzzles me is why we humans (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) have such a vast amount of knowledge available that could help create a really beautiful world, but we seem to lack the ability to really use that knowledge. It might be because of several reasons:

  • the knowledge is available (for free) but doesn’t really reach the people that could (and should!) use it
  • the knowledge is available (for free) but isn’t suitable to use by the people that really need it
  • the knowledge is available but must be paid for

Maybe there are some solutions.

  • Case 1: you know there must be a certain kind of knowledge available that can help you create a better world. But you cannot find it. Start asking questions, and who knows, you may find people out there that can help you find the knowledge you are looking for
  • Case 2: you have found knowledge but it’s too abstract or too detailed or too off-topic or whatever. Go to case 1 and ask people for assistance
  • Case 3: so we have knowledge to create a better world but it must be paid for? maybe the solution to this is that there should be a universal law that ALL knowledge is for free. And that we earn money not by selling knowledge, but by helping creating a more beautiful world.

Happy puzzling!

LEAN for Happiness: A Happy Team?

Many people (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) are thinking about “waste” prevention. According to Wikipedia, the original seven muda are:

  • Transport (moving products that are not actually required to perform the processing)
  • Inventory (all components, work in process and finished product not being processed)
  • Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing)
  • Waiting (waiting for the next production step)
  • Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • Over Processing (resulting from poor tool or product design creating activity)
  • Defects (the effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects).
  • Later an eighth waste was defined by Womack et al. (2003); it was described as manufacturing goods or services that do not meet customer demand or specifications. Many others have added the “waste of unused human talent” to the original seven wastes. These wastes were not originally a part of the seven deadly wastes defined by Taiichi Ohno in TPS, but were found to be useful additions in practice.

Now while there seems at first hindsight nothing wrong with these principles, they tend to pinpoint aspects related to production processes. The processes tend to be more important than the people working in these processes. But what if we took the LEAN principles as a path towards more happiness? Let’s give it a try.

  • Transport: stop moving ‘endless-growth’ or ‘ego-sustaining’ or ‘fear-inducing’ information onto (media) channels that can reach many people
  • Inventory: stop saving money onto endless piles without it being put into circulation
  • Motion: stop preventing people to move. It’s quite human to walk around and have a (social) talk. It’s not waste and it definitely is more human
  • Waiting: stop preventing people to wait. It doesn’t hurt to wait a little and use the time available to socialize or think of work improvement techniques or …
  • Overproduction: nothing wrong with a little overproduction if it buys you some time later on that you can spend doing nice things with
  • Overprocessing: start taking time to develop good tools and take time to allow for creative activity, that is not waste, it adds to better quality
  • Defects: if defects were not inspected, chances are we miss extra quality improvement potential

So if we start thinking of lean in a happiness context, we get another approach to production processes that might just not be economically “perfect” but definitely are a lot more social and human-centric. Happy happiness hunting!

How To Send Energy Into The Right Direction

Let’s say you want to improve a situation. And you start analyzing it. But because people (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) tend to have a poor capability in handling complex themes, it seems natural to ignore parts you don’t really understand or want to understand. And so you focus on areas that you feel comfortable with. And then you pour all your energy into this area (like the rotten spot on the apple in the 1st figure). All your analytical energy goes to the rotten spot because you want to enhance it, enlarge it, maybe even make it look worse than it really is. This way, you attract energy towards yourself and you become more important. You are the savier! In your savier role, you are able to inflict fear towards your environment just by exarcabating how “bad” the analyzed spot really is. You have stigmatized it.

But what if another analist comes along and shows an analytical approach not from a partial point of view, but from the more complex, total point of view? Demonstrating that the “rotten” apple in it’s total context might be not that worse at all (look at the 2nd figure where the same apple is integral part of the fruitscale). And this analysis shows there is a lot of hidden capability lying around in this fruitscale. You might even come to the conclusion that you should not carve out the rotten spot of the apple, but just rearrange the fruitscale a little so that the apple gets “air” and can self repair. Now you have added value the total instead of the part. And make all the “fruit” happy!  You have saved the whole fruitscale instead of just the apple. Happy fruitscale re-engineering!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy…

Happiness is a funny thing. According to Wikipedia it literally means: “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”. Seen from scientific point of view Wikipedia states “Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components.”. But why on earth would we (not you and me but al the others ofcourse) want to split happiness into components?

Everyone understands what being happy is. It needs no further explanation. If you are into scientific viewpoints, you might take a look at the World Database of Happiness.

Btw, did you know that happiness is actually a choice? That’s right. You can choose to be happy. You can also choose to be unhappy, but why bother? Better spend the energy that you have towards happiness than spend it magnifying the things that might make you unhappy. So I wish you happy happiness hunting!

Time For IT To Move From Digital To Analog

I made this graphic to visualize how we (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) perceive how modern day IT often “integrates” and overlaps. There are a few large “blobs” that cover big areas but have significant overlap with their competitors. They were mostly designed from efficiency point of view and hardly (if any) take human-centric design into account. They were often designed from greed-centric strategies (I win, You lose) by duplicating aspects of competitors, and by that strategy create overlap. For the customer who buys the solution, it creates waste and leaves the customer with an integration nightmare. These “blobs” look “squared” or  “digital” in my example to exacerbate that humans tend to have need for less “sharp” edges (more analog than digital). Humans tend to attract to the analog edges of the sine curve. Machines tend to attract to fill in the curve. And then lately, cloud offerings have come to fill in some gaps.

Maybe it’s time that IT designers start to move their thinking from binary to analog. Find the sine curve that fits human-centric behavior and match that with human-centric design. Fill in the remainder with “binary” building blocks that do not directly have to face humans. Require as as customer that these building blocks have as little as possible overlap, because that is in fact really a waste and as little as possible integration hassle. The better these solutions integrate (out of the box) with other (competitive) solutions, the more market share they might achieve and the happier the customer will be. Win-win for all! Transforming to this way of thinking, the sine curve (the user experience) might look more like the graphic here to the right. Happy digital-to-analog converting!

Is “Interoperability eats Integration” actually Deep Thinking?

We humans (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) all practice lateral or  “deep” thinking from time to time. When practicing lateral thinking, we might sometimes even get inspirational thoughts like Einstein (“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”), Madadiy (“I just dont know how…to think less. If you know how, then teach me…”) or De Bono (“Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions”). But ofcourse thinking lateral sometimes does not automatically make us Einsteins, Madadiy’s or De Bono’s. And that’s not important too. What’s important, is if the results of our lateral thinking find it’s way into society so that it might add value somewhere.

For example, some time ago I was ‘laterally thinking’ about two essential themes: Integration and Interoperability. And then some time later I accidentaly stumbled upon a picture of a large fish being hunted by several smaller fishes. When I saw the picture, I could connect these themes. And one might say, my ‘lateral thinking’ product was born out of graphic inspiration. So I titled my lateral thought “Interoperability eats Integration“.

In this specific thought I envision the smaller fish as the symbol for integration. This tightly integrated specimen seems to have been developed on the paradigm to integrate as much as possible into one large ecosystem, with no self organizing capabilities (centralized organisation of the integrated actions).

I envision the smaller fishes as the symbol for interoperability. The smaller fishes seem to have been developed on the paradigm to integrate as much as possible into one large ecosystem, but with one difference: they kept their autonomy and self organize there actions into a (beautiful) coherent total, like swarms. So now you can see how and why I created my ‘lateral thought’ Interoperability eats Integration. Happy Deep Thinking!

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