Prior Quotes of the Week
Third Quarter, 2000
(Titles that are linked may be ordered online.)
From So Simple A Beginning
What could be simpler? Four
scale-steps descend from Do.
Four such measures carry over
the course of four phases, then home.
At first mere four-ale, the theme swells
to four seasons, four compass points, four winds,
forcing forth the four corners of the world
perfect for getting lost in
or for filling, by divide and multiply.
Four secret letters, teatragrammaton,
start to speak themselves, the tune
doubling down a net of no return.
What could be simpler? Not even music
yet, but only countinng: Do, ti, la, sol.
Believing their own pulse, four tones
break into combinations, uncountable.
From language to life is just four letters.
How can that awful fecundity come
from four semaphores, shorthand and dumb,
nothing in themselves but everything?
Gene-raining cascade, proliferating green
tints, varieties senseless except for their own
runaway joy in the explosion. Fresh phloem-
pipes, palisades, leaves ripe for insect-aping.
All patterns patented: gyro, chute, receiver,
fish that track ocean back to first stream
or steer pitch black by trapped bacterial beams.
Can egg-chaos really be all the blueprint needed
to father out this garden-riot from just seed?
No end to the program exept a breaking out
in species-mad experiment, sense-shattered shout,
instruction-torrent: live, solve, copy This, repeat.
The Perpetual Calendar, parts 1 & 2 of 4
Richard Powers , The
Gold Bug Variations, pp. 7 - 8, HarperPerennial,
Modules of a Planetary Mind
There are numerous technologies with which we'll soon upgrade
our interconnectivityfrom smart clothes and digitized pens to information-sending-and-receiving
shoes and computers which divine our interests by watching the dilation of our
pupils, then go out as personal servants to crawl the World Wide Web for finds
to surprise us, to entertain us, and to help us through emergencies. But the
web of inventions about to alter our lives will work all the better if we understand
the interconnections built into our physiology. The global brain has a pulse
and power grander than its constituent beings. We are modules of a planetary
mind, a multiprocessor intelligence which fuses every form of living kind.
Current evolutionary theory holds that an individual is "fit"
only if he or she can maximize the number of his or her offspring. Even a brilliant
thinker like Richard Dawkins says that the ultimate individual is not you and
me, but a gene within us driving us remorselessly, and that that gene is selfish
to the nth degree. Such contemplations leave out the universal nature of networking.
Less than a quarter of a second after a false vacuum burped this cosmos into
being, entities like quarks and leptons precipitated, separated, and set up
boundaries which gave them their identity. Yet all were laced together in spite
of their autonomy. When the strong force, the weak force, and the electromagnetic
force failed to hold them, there was always gravity. The cohesive forces are
more intricate in social systems, but
the principle is the same: you can run, but you can never get away. You can
put distance between yourself and the center of your nation or your family,
but inward, an army of invisible others speaks through our thoughts, twists
our internet which literally shapes our brain, orders what we'll hear and see,
and dictates what we'll comprehend as reality.
Howard Bloom , Global
Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century,
pp, 219, John Wiley & Sons, 2000.
Strategies for Reaching Unknown Markets: Planning
as Discovery & Learning
Markets that do not exist cannot be analyzed: Suppliers and
customers must discover them together. Not only are the market applications
for disruptive technologies unknown at the time of their development,
they are unknowable. The strategies and plans that managers formulate
for confronting disruptive technological change, therefore, should be plans
for bearing and discovery rather than plans for execution...
Most mangers learn about innovation in a sustaining technology
context because most technologies developed by established companies are
sustaining in character. Such innovations are, by definition, targeted at known
markets in which customer needs are understood.
...The problem with with this lopsided experience base is that
when the same analytical and decision-making processes learned in the school
of sustaining innovation are applied to enabling or disruptive technologies,
the effect on the company can be paralyzing. These
processes demand crisply quantified information when none exists, accurate estimates
of financial returns when neither revenues nor costs can be known, and management
according to detailed plans and budgets that cannot be formulated. Applying
inappropriate marketing, investment, and management processes can render good
companies incapable of creating the new markets in which enabling or disruptive
technologies are first used.
Clayton M. Christensen, The
Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,
pp, 147 - 148, Harvard Business School Press, 1997.
An Overabundance of Resources in a Tightly
The key to the Normandy advantage, what allows the fledgling
enterprise to win over pragmatist customers in advance of broader market acceptance,
is focusing an overabundance of support into a confined market niche. By simplifying
the initial challenge, the enterprise can efficiently develop a solid base of
references, collateral, and internal procedures and documentation by virtue
of a restricted set of variables. The efficiency of the marketing process, at
this point, is a function of the "boundlessness" of the market segment
being addressed. The more tightly bound it is, the easier it is to create and
introduce messages into it, and the faster these messages travel by word of
Companies just starting out, as well as any marketing program
operating with scarce resources must operate in a tightly bound market to be
competitive. Otherwise their "hot" marketing messages get diffused
too early, the chain reaction of word-of-mouth
communication dies out, and the sales force is back to selling "cold."
This is a classic chasm symptom, as the enterprise leaves behind the niche represented
by the early market. It is usually interpreted as a letdown in the sales force
or a cooling off in demand when, in fact, it is simply the consequence of trying
to expand into too loosely bounded a market..
Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing
the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers,
pp. 66, HarperBusiness, 1991.
The Ongoing Challenge of Transition Management
For business, the paradox of time is, in part, the paradox
of the visionary: To succeed in the short term, you need to think long term,
yet the greater your vision and the longer the time interval over which you
predict results, the greater the risk you will be unable to take the steps necessary
in the short term to achieve long-range ends. Discoveries about the future tend
to make actions in the present irrelevant, but only if you look at them in the
context of future activity. Activities in the present tend to make discoveries
about the future irrelevant, but only if you judge them by the standards of
short term success. By its very nature, the future destabilizes the present.
By its very nature, the present resists the future. To survive, you need duality,
but people and companies by their very nature tend to resist living in two tenses.
. . . Virtually every company has a duality embedded within
it, an essential time tension between what it is and what it needs to be. A
television network is both an entertainment provider and a cable company, but
only if it can escape living solely in the present. A computer component company
is an entertainment company waiting to happen if it can just see itself that
wayand if it can keep the vision of itself in the future from preventing
success in the present. Today's entertainment company is an embryonic player
in the soon-to-be-exploding career education business, but only if it can confront
the issue of what its core business must do in the present to be successful
in the future. The duality between present and future is maddening, but only
if you resist it. Learn to sit on both sides of the table at the time, and the
duality becomes what it should be: liberating.
Wacker and Jim Taylor, The
Visionary's Handbook; Nine Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business,
HarperBusiness, 2000, pp. 77 - 78.
The Nature of Economies
Hiram frowned and looked dismayed. "I'm afraid I haven't
been clear," he said. "Economic development isn't a matter of imitating
nature. Rather, economic development is a matter of using the same universal
principles that the rest of nature uses. The alternative isn't to develop some
other way; some other way doesn't exist.
"Thousands of years before anyone had a glimmer of evolutionary
or biological development processes, people were fostering differentiated strains
of grains. Thousands of years before anybody was aware of symbionts such as
mitochondria or chloroplasts, people were combining materials and devices that
had radically different economic lineages. Even today, when educated people
are aware of symbionts in the rest of nature, inventors who combine silicon
chips with typewriter keyboardsor any other devices and materials with
different economic lineagesaren't imitating animal cells and mitochondria.
Rather, they're using universal principles of development and co-development
for the good reason that no others are available. Economic development is a
version of natural development."
This is an intellectually interesting way to look at economic
life," said Armbruster. "But what you've just said implies that it's
academic information. People don't need to recognize the universal processes
and principles to engage in using them. So is there any practical value or advantage
in knowing that economic development is differentiations emerging from generalities?"
"Yes," replied Hiram. "It tells us that development
isn't a collection of things but rather a process that yields things. Not knowing
this, governments, their development and aid agencies, the World Bank, and much
of the public put faith in fallacious "Thing
Theory" of development. The Thing Theory supposes that development is the
result of possessing things such as factories, dams, schools, tractors, whateveroften
bunches of things subsumed under the category of infrastructure.
"However, if the development process is lacking in a town
or other settlement, thngs either given or sold to in are merely products of
the process along with them. To suppose that things, per se, are sufficient
to produce development creates false expectations and futilities. Worse, it
evades measures that might actually foster development."
Jane Jacobs , The
Nature of Economies, The Modern Library, 2000, pp. 31 - 32.
The Transition Manager's Dialogue
The ability to support unresolved paradoxes and to allow many
different styles and interior dialogues to flourish is the mark of a truly creative
scientist, artist, writer, or musician. While he may have been politically conservative,
Shakespeare presented in his plays an entire universe of widely differing personae,
each with his or her unique voice. For Bohm the individual is enfolded within
the social and the social within the individual. People with sufficient creative
energy can, by working on their own, dissolve
fixed thought and provide the fertile ground to sustain a multiplicity of voices.
Yet most of us normally use our energy to sustain a false sense of ourselves,
which means we tend to operate from fixed and nonnegotiable but unexamined positions.
Here lies the power of dialogue: to make manifest such assumptions and positions,
bringing them out into the open.
F. David Peat, Infinite
Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm, A Perseus Book, 1997.
the Week #184 (2000.07.16)
When you are asked what matters to you, how are you to answer?
There are many obstacles which work to confuse the issue, and there may have
been little real encouragement while you were growing up to know how to consider
You may use your values, concepts, experiences, conflicts,
worldview, problems, identity, concerns, beliefs, and aspirations to attempt
to determine what matters to you. The mix can lead you either to great confusion
and conflicts of interest or to great resolve. So many fallacies abound in our
society that it can seem as if the subject is arbitrary, evasive, or even unimportant.
In fact, it is greatly to your advantage to know what matters to you -- not
only in theory, but in reality. There is a significant difference between the
people who know what matters to them and the ones who do not.
Fritz , Creating,
pp. 179 - 180, A Fawcett Columbine Book, 1991.
the Week #183 (2000.07.05)
Restoring Our Inner Ecology; The Good, The Truth,
and The Beautiful
Transforming the ecology of thought is done as we pay attention
to the way we bring our words to life. The vehicle by which we can shift and
restore the inner ecology lies in how we accommodate and integrate the three
great value spheres of human experience, or what the Greeks spoke of as the
Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
When the Greeks wrote and spoke of these, they were reinforcing
a set of ideas that were held together as different aspects of a coherent way
of understanding what it meant to be human. . . .
. . . They asked, What is the good life? And do we have the
courage to persue it?
To the Greeks, this question required people to think not only
about humanly created structures and norms but those "according to nature,"
which included the whole living cosmos. Man looked to both the wider cosmos,
the heavens and the earth, for direction. The assumption was that the good life
entailed harmonizing one's interior experiences with the natural order of things,
which included aspects of each of all three domains. The "Good" itself
was symbolized by Plato as the Sun, the source of everything. He believed the
challenge for any individual, particularly those who aspire to leadership, was
to discover this animating source within all things, in nature and in the affairs
. . . In beauty resides the aesthetic and sensuous dimensions
of life. It is the domain of subjective perception, of what I think and feel,
and of artistic expression. For Plato, love of beauty was a central component
in coming to know oneself. Love of physical beauty, of the sensuous, Plato suggested,
could lead one to an appreciation of invisible beauty, and ultimately to a love
of wisdom and beauty itself. One of Plato's most famous and sensuous dialogues,
the Symposium, takes place at an all-night drinking party, where its
participants give long speeches on the subject of love while becoming quite
drunk. To the Greeks, beauty was still closely tied to true understanding: You
could not have one without the other.
Yet how many managers and leaders today consider whether the
policy they are about to persue is in fact beautiful? Do they "love"
the policies and ideas they persue? The questions seem largely irrelevant today,
since we have come to seperate beauty from power, affect or sensuality from
ethical action. The emerging worldview on which dialogue is based suggests otherwise:
Far from irrelevant, "soft" concern, the beauty of aethetic of any
subject is an essential component of its successful deployment and sustainability.
. . .
Truth today has also been seperated from the other two domainsfrom
beauty and from the persuit of a collective good. We understand truth as science,
an inquiry into hard facts and observable data. But today's objective conceptions
of truth have usurped older and richer meanings, and unnecessarily crowded out
its richer implications.
Drawing upon the Greeks' understanding, truth can be understood
not merely as objective scientific thruth, but as the spirit of truth.
I once heard truth compared to a deer at the edge of the woods, coming to drink.
The truth is coy. If you make a loud noise, it tends to flee. If there is a
still place, without disturbance, the most essential truths of the moment can
come forward. This story refers to the subtle dimensions of truth that we might
comtemplate. Truth can refer to internal dimensions, not merely external material
ones. Put another way, an inquiry into what is true in any given situation can
include rigorous exploration of the interior dimensions of experience as much
as it can the objective, exterior dimensions.
ancient Greeks did not necessarily have the right answers. But I think we could
say that they had some of the right questions. Today the questions that
animate us have changed dramatically. In other words, we might reinvigorate
our lives by learning to ask new questions. Asking large questions seeds the
ground with new possibilities. While at first glance this may seem to be unstrategic
work somehow not central to achieving the ambitions we set out for ourselves,
I suggest that inviting the senior leaders in any setting to reflect on the
deeper questions that antimate them, and that antimate their organization, is
some of the most important work they can do. . .
William Isaacs , Dialogue
and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to Communicating in
Business and in Life, pp. 310 - 317, A Currency Book, 1999.
Other Prior Quotes:
Second Quarter, 2000
First Quarter, 2000
Fourth Quarter, 1999
Third Quarter, 1999
Second Quarter, 1999
First Quarter, 1999
Fourth Quarter, 1998
Third Quarter, 1998
Second Quarter, 1998
First Quarter, 1998
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