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Tricia Wang en Instagram: “I felt like was in the yoga version of @getoutmovie after a week @kripalucenter surrounded by lumpy potatoes in search of nirvana. The…”
"I felt like was in the yoga version of @getoutmovie after a week @kripalucenter surrounded by lumpy potatoes in search of nirvana. The themes & branding were all about equality, kindness, & peace but it didn’t feel like that to me when i looked around. There was a clear labor divide. The cleaner on my floor said I was the first person in her 5 years of working there who had a conversation with her. I had to fight hard to keep my resting bitch face game at 💯 to protect myself from invasive lumpy potatoes asking me where I was from. It’s my hope that as the community for POC healers grow, we will see more inclusive & representative spaces that move beyond just placing a token POC in their catalog or token instructor. Aim at least for 50/50 representation in all aspects."
triciawang  2018  organizations  branding  inclusivity  inclusion  hypocrisy  kindness  peace  equality  labor  attention  posturing  representation  inclusivitywashing 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Alliance for Self-Directed Education | Home Page
"Imagine what would happen if, instead of sending children to coercive schools where their natural ways of learning are curtailed, we provided them with the resources that would allow their curiosity, playfulness, and other natural ways of learning to flourish. That is Self-Directed Education (SDE); education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the learner.

The Alliance for Self-Directed Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to normalizing and legitimizing Self-Directed Education, to make it available to everyone who seeks it. We invite you to join."
education  learning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  organizations 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Alternative Art School Fair Radio | Clocktower
"The Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world, November 19-20, 2016. The entire event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived on clocktower.org.

See the radio schedule below to plan your listening party. The live listening link can be found HERE.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

Listening Schedule:
November 19
Keynote panel -- 12:00-1:30PM
Carol Becker
Luis Camnitzer
Dorothea Rockburne
Victoria Sobel
Interviewer/Moderator: Catherine Despont

How can alternative systems impact traditional arts education? -- 2-3:30PM
Ox-Bow
Daniel Bozhkov
School of the Future
Interviewer/Moderator: Regine Basha

Art and Democracy -- 3:45-5:15PM
UNIDEE
The Black Mountain School
UOIEA (Anna Craycroft)
Interviewer/Moderator: Provisions Library

Self-Governance as Pedagogy: Of Other Spaces -- 5:30-7:30PM
Art and Law Program
Interviewer/Moderator: Associate Director Lauren van Haaften-Schick
Art & Law Program Fellows: Abram Coetsee & Alex Strada (Fall 2016), Damien Davis (Spring 2016)

November 20
Keynote -- 12:00-1:30PM
Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, PhD, RA

Hybrid Practice -- 2:00-3:30PM
SFPC
Zz School of Print Media
Southland Institute
Interviewer/Moderator: Archeworks

Responsive Programming: A Conversation Between The Ventriloquist Summerschool and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville -- 3:45-5:15PM
The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

(Re)incorporating Art in Everyday Life -- 5:30-7:00PM
Chad Laird (Sunview Luncheonette)
Tal Beery (School of Apocalypse)
Tatfoo Tan (NERTM)
Moderator/Interviewer: Grizedale Arts"
tolisten  education  altgdp  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  schools  artschools  2016  radio  art  pioneerworks  alternative  diy  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alternative Art School Fair | Pioneer Works
[See also: The Alternative Art School Fair Radio
http://clocktower.org/series/the-alternative-art-school-fair-radio ]

"The Alternative Art School Fair
November 19-20, 2016

The Alternative Art School Fair presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

The Alternative Art School Fair event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived by Clocktower Productions on clocktower.org.

Media Sponsor:
Hyperallergic

Participating Schools

AAPG – Alternative Art Program Guatemala • AltMFA • Anhoek School • Archeworks • Arts Letters & Numbers • ASCII Project • Beta-Local • Black Mountain School • Brooklyn Institute for Social Research • Center for Art Analysis • COLLABOR • école de Hogbonu • Enroll Yourself • Free School of Architecture • Islington Mill Art Academy • Grizedale Arts • Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency • NERTM - New Earth Resiliency Training Module • Nomad/9 • Pioneer Works • School of Apocalypse • School of Critical Engagement - SoCE • School of the Future • School for Poetic Computation • SOMA • Sommerskolen • Spring Sessions • Sunview Luncheonette • The Art & Law Program • The Black School • The Other MA - TOMA • The Public School • The School of Making Thinking • The Southland Institute • The Ventriloquist Summerschool • The Zz School of Print Media • Thinker Space • Transart Institute • Uncertainty School • UNIDEE - University of Ideas • Utopia School

Presses, Libraries, Resources

Arthur Fournier Fine and Rare • Booklyn • Brooklyn Art Library • Common Field • Inventory Press • OSSAI - Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research • Provisions Library • Sketchbook • Project Zone Books

Saturday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Sunday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Schools [and a few other things, as noted, website links to descriptions, and to each school’s site if there is one]

AltMFA
London, United Kingdom

Alternative Art College
United Kingdom

Alternative Art Program
Guatemala

Anhoek School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Antiuniversity Now
London, United Kingdom

Archeworks
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Arts Letters & Numbers
New York, USA

ASCII Project
Mohansein Giza, Egypt

Beta-Local
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Black Mountain School
Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA

GALLERY
Booklyn
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Brooklyn Art Library
Brooklyn, New York, USA

SCHOOL
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Brooklyn, NY, USA

NETWORK
Common Field
National

école de Hogbonu
Porto Novo, Bénin

Enrol Yourself
London, United Kingdom

BOOKSTORE
Fournier Fine & Rare
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Grizedale Arts
Coniston, Lake District, UK

PRESS
Inventory Press
New York, New York, USA

New Earth Resiliency Training Module [NERTM]
Staten Island, NY, USA

Nomad/9 MFA
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

RESOURCE
Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research [OSSAI]
nomadic

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency
Saugatuck, Michigan, USA

Pioneer Works
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Provisions Library
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Ricean School of Dance
Hydra Island, Greece

School of Apocalypse
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School of Critical Engagement [SoCE]
Los Angeles / Oslo / Accra

School of the Future
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School for Poetic Computation
New York, NY, USA

Shift/Work
Edinburgh, Scotland

Spring Sessions
Amman, Jordan

SOMA
Mexico City, Mexico

Sommerskolen
Stavanger, Norway

Southland Institute
Los Angeles, California, USA

Sunview Luncheonette
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Art & Law Program
New York, New York, USA

The Black School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Cheapest University
Paris, France

The Free School of Architecture
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Public School
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

The School of Making Thinking
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The School of the Damned
London, United Kingdom

The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Oslo, Norway

The Zz School of Print Media
Kansas City, Missouri, USA

ThinkerSpace
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

TOMA
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Transart Institute
Berlin, Germany, and New York, New York, USA

Uncertainty School
Seoul, New York, International

UNIDEE-University Of Ideas
Biella, Italy

Union of Initiatives for Educational Assembly (UOIEA)
Sites vary

PRESS
Zone Books
Brooklyn, NY, USA"
altgdp  art  artschools  pioneerworks  2016  alternative  diy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
One voice, many hands — Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog
"First, you need to know what voice you’re using. There’s a difference between creating a voice from scratch and building on one that already exists — and we’ll get to the difference between a constructed or a nourished brand voice in a later piece — but once you know your voice, you have to break it down again in order to work out how to scale it.

Starting with the what

When we first started approaching this problem at Slack, we tried to do it from a logistical, logical, mechanical point of view. We started making lists of words and phrases that sound like things we’d say.

Or, more often, lists of things we’d never say. It’s always easier to identify what you don’t want your voice to sound like than what you do. “We should never sound like this,” you say, reading a densely packed jargon-filled piece of marketing copy from a long-defunct service. “We mustn’t ever use this word. Or this phrase. Or… here: I’ll just make a list.”

Thing is, while it’s easy to identify the negative traits, it creates a gaping void for anyone who isn’t inside the mind of the holder of that voice. Anyone who comes to write for you steps off the huge cliff of “not like this” into an empty space. What DO you sound like, then?

A great first step, as used in many style guides (and guides to styling style guides) is the “this but not that” list.

From our style guide, for example:
We are:
Confident (never cocky)
Witty (but not silly)
Informal (but never too informal)
Intelligent (and always treat our users as intelligent, too)
Friendly (but not ingratiating)
Helpful (never overbearing)
Clear, concise and human.

We are characterful
But we never let character overwhelm content. What we have to say is infinitely more important than being admired for the way in which we say it. If people can’t see the substance for the style, we’ve gone wrong.

But having that basic sense of the personality of the company, or the brand, doesn’t mean that people can necessarily step into and out of it when they need to write something.

If people are still relying on checking the lists of things they sound like against things they shouldn’t, they tend to get bound up and overthink. The words are all there, but the feeling behind them is lacking. They’re trying to sound a certain way, but it doesn’t feel clear how or why they’re wanting to sound that way.

Never mind the what — start with the why

Our training in writing at Slack has shifted over time, then, from using the solid ‘examples and end results’ to encouraging people to tap into the feelings behind them.

We’re working on getting people to think of writing — of using the “Slack voice” — as merely using their own voice, but using shared characteristics or values to approach whatever it is they’re about to write. And how do you get into that brain? We use a few of our company values to help focus on how it is we sound. Simple: just ask a few questions, and consider a few things.

Empathy

Whatever someone is about to write, we encourage people to think about the person they’re writing it for. To give them a face, and a name. If it helps to think of someone you know, do that. If it helps to think of an appropriate emoji face that sums it up, why not? Ask yourself:

• What is the reader feeling? Where have we found them?
• Are they angry? Confused? Curious? Excited?
• How often might they see this bit of writing? How would it read after the 20th time?
• How do I want them to feel at the end? How can I help get them there?

Courtesy

Being courteous is about being respectful, but not over-polite. Adding 12 extra pleases and thanks, or a paragraph telling people what you’re about to say in the next paragraph is less courteous than simply telling people what they need to know and then getting out of their way.

• How does this help the person I’m talking to?
• What’s the very essence of what they need to take from this? How quickly can they get to it?
• Do I need to speak at all? Is this something a person will work out by themselves?

Think about what you need to say in advance. Work through all the questions people may have, and answer them. Then delete anything that is extraneous or confusing information.

Craftsmanship

The stuff you put out into the world speaks volumes to people about every other part of whatever you make. You’re representing all your colleagues, your team, all the people that don’t get seen, whatever you type. So being precise about the quality of the work will speak volumes about all the work that people can’t see.

• Can this be tighter? Can I lose the first paragraph?
• Who can give me a second opinion, or a second pair of eyes?
• When I read it out loud, does it make me stumble? Can I rewrite it so that it doesn’t?

Playfulness

At Slack, playfulness is not about the number of emoji you can use, or whimsy or … whatever. It’s about being in a playful stance: being in the spirit of the game, having an open mind, looking at the world sideways or surpassing expectations.

• What does this usually sound like?
• What different angle can I look at this from? How can I approach this differently?
• What word or phrase can I throw in there that will make someone smile?
• What do I need to do to meet expectations? What can I do to surpass them?
• How can I use this opportunity to make someone’s day a little more pleasant?

We tend think of our voice, in addition to being an external representation of the people behind it, as part of the product. And because of that, we aren’t necessarily making rules about what to say or what not to say. We’re trying to find the right traits to tap into, trying to open up the space so people can sound like themselves — because, if they work here, sounding like themselves is sounding like Slack — but come at it from a position of shared characteristics. It’s less about mechanics — more about a sensibility. Of course, even if you’re working from inside out like this, you still need rules (and more of that anon). But working this way means we can be a little more flexible, a little more able to stretch and grow, and be, in general, a little more liberal with our words.

Because we’re hippies.

Not really. It’s because, so far, it actually seems to be (mainly) working."
sfsh  content  contentstrategy  voice  slack  writing  howto  tutorials  organizations  webdev  communication  webdesign 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A manifesto for museums | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"I’m about halfway through an internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and find myself thinking a lot about the role of museums, their futures, and the economics of art institutions. Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author and founder of the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, gave the keynote address at the International Council of Museums this year where he outlined his manifesto of sorts on how museums should function.

The entire thing is worth a read, but I was especially interested in his thoughts on scale:
It is imperative that museums become smaller, more orientated towards the individual and more economical. This is the only way that they can ever tell stories on a human scale. The great museums invite us to forget our humanity and to accept the state and its human masses. This is why there are millions, outside the West, who are frightened by museums. This is why museums are associated with governments.

I’m reminded of David Joselit’s essay In Praise of Small (here’s a PDF of the essay [http://commonpracticeny.org/assets/CPNY_NearContact_2016.pdf ]) that also argues for and encourages small organizations and institutions, subverting the common phrase, that bigger is better:
Here then are the offcial assumptions with regard to the question of scale and the public good: BIG (capitalization of finance or audience) = PUBLIC. SMALL (capitalization of finance or audience) = ELITIST. But in fact this equation inverts the actual situation. It is the “public” (too big to fail) that disproportionately benefits elites, whereas it is the “elitist” (too small to survive) that serves communities in ways that other, larger organizations cannot. Might this ideological inversion be just as insidious and frightening as it sounds? Is it possible that artists in New York City are not only supposed to decorate the salons of hedge fund managers—and thus be implicated in financial elitism—while also taking the rap for intellectual elitism through their lively participation in specialized art discourse?

The term critique is tossed around as though it were a grenade with its needle pulled. But where does “critique” inhere? In my view, it is generally ineffectual in individual works of art, whose transgression can be easily neutralized in the halls of BIG. No, our political challenge is to maintain alternate forms of public space for exhibition and debate. To do so, we must exit the ethos of “Too big to fail.”

I’ve been thinking about Joselit’s essay a lot, recently rereading it as part of the Triple Canopy Publication Intensive I took part in earlier this summer. While I learned a lot during my two weeks at Triple Canopy, one thing I keep coming back to is are the benifits of staying small. Of how when an institution grows and gains power and size, there are all sorts of political, economic, and public considerations than must be accounted for. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that—I’m seeing the Whitney navigate that each day with a stunning grace—but like Joselit proposes, bigger isn’t always better, and at each scale there are a new set of tradeoffs."
museums  small  jarrettfuller  2016  orhanpamuk  organizations  institutions  sfsh  publicspace  davidjoselit  elitism  triplecanopy  scale  scalability  power  size  whitneymuseum  nyc  manifestos  huamn  humans  toobigtofail 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Allen Tan on Twitter: "Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."
"Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."

[Preceded by a series of tweets with screenshots from this article:
"One Day, 625 Delays: A mechanical failure at Union Square cascaded into hours of underground hell, revealing just how fragile the subway really is."
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/02/mta-one-day-625-delays.html

"That thing when institutions respond to criticism with self-congratulatory bullshit:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164413084803072

"That thing when institutions fix problems with infrastructure by actively destroying it for short term gains"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164738525032448

"That thing when institutions blame the people they serve:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164960252731392

"That thing when an institution’s incentives backfire: "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702165380995948544

"That thing where an institution issue noncommittal statements ungrounded in the underlying causes:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702166278103048192

"That thing where institutions fancies themselves those futuresight people in Minority Report:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702166805616467968 ]
organizations  change  organization  leadership  complexity  oranizationalchange  accountability  incentives  allentan  cv  2016  institutions  bureaucracy 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Conversations I Want to Have | Autodizactic
"As of June 15, my contract on my day gig will be up, and I’ll need to find some other way to keep my dog fed. As much as I’ve been thinking about geography when grappling with what this change means, I’ve been thinking about what kinds of conversations I want to be in and which ones I want to leave behind. With five and a half months left on the calendar, I’m gaining clarity.

The conversations I most want to sustain and move forward are those around equity and purpose. The first means all equities. I want to talk about the kid in middle school who realizes he’s gay and can’t access educational and social experiences like teachers’ use of heteronormative language and not feeling comfortable asking his crush to the school dance. I want to talk about the fact that if most school leaders say they invited their honors or gifted and talented-labeled students to participate in a program then I can be almost certain they didn’t invite students of color. I want to talk about how students in rural schools don’t have the access to arts, cultural institutions, and educational opportunities their urban- and suburban-dwelling peers have every day. As many flavors of equity as we can bring to the table, that’s what I want.

In all of my grad school experiences, I have asked and searched for an answer to the same question to no avail, “What is the pedagogy and practice that drives this institution of learning?” Silence each time. I ask a similar question of principals and superintendents, “What are the three things we are working toward this year?” Silence (usually uncomfortable), and then a garbled answer.

Thus, I want to improve conversations of purpose. For any action, program, or scheme; I want to help make sure there’s an answer to “Why are we doing this?” Similarly, for all askings of “What are we going to do?” I want to help organizations and people look to their agreed upon purpose for helpful guidance. If you don’t know your mission statement, then it’s probably not your mission.

The conversations I’m willing to step away from are simple. Anything that starts with, “How can technology…” Technology should not drive the question. It should be considered as an answer to a possible problem, and it becomes boring to be in room after room and seen as a person who is there to bring up technology before he brings up people and relationships. In the conversations I’m seeking, I hope to enter fewer rooms with that presumed persona in the same way a master carpenter probably doesn’t want to be “that lady who loves talking about saws.”"
zacharychase  2016  via:lukeneff  purpose  education  schools  conversation  equity  inequality  inclusivity  pedagogy  practice  technology  edtech  teaching  learning  organizations 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Feel Train
[http://feeltrain.com/blog/hello-feel-train/

"I am incredibly proud to announce that Courtney Stanton and I are starting a creative technology cooperative called Feel Train. We build tech that creates dynamic and nuanced interactions between humans and computers. We eschew meme generation and instead confront people with their own humanity by putting them face to face with the inhuman. And as of today we're available for hire.

So. We're a creative technology cooperative. I'll talk more about "creative technology" in a future essay, but right now I want to dive into the "cooperative" part. Feel Train is a worker-owned, cooperatively managed company.

A hard limit on scale
I've spent about a decade as a working professional. I've been at at half a dozen companies of various sizes, ranging from a three-person bootstrapped business to a multinational technology company with 5000 employees. I've been lucky: every company I've worked for has been a pretty good place to work overall.

I've experienced a bunch of different workplace cultures and organizational structures but I've never felt comfortable with any of them, which is why we're doing something a little bit different with this new business.

There are plenty of models out there for technical cooperatives, and we wanted to make sure we picked the right one for Feel Train. (For 101-level information on how a tech co-op might work, the Tech Co-op Network hosts an excellent free guide full of case studies.)

One thing that Courtney and I knew from the start in our very bones: Feel Train will never consist of more than 8 people.

This is a hard cap on the number of employees. With this limit in place, we no longer have to pick solutions that scale, because we literally cannot scale. We could have a different benefits or vacation package for every worker. That would be a logistical nightmare at most companies, but we'll never have to keep track of more than 8 packages.

Emotionally speaking, this does wonders for me. I've had plenty of entrepreneur friends over the years. Sometimes I would hear them swear up and down, "I love our company at this size. We're going to grow slowly and carefully." Then (ideally) success hits and it becomes very difficult to say no to the prospect of doing more, and doing so by growing faster than they'd ever planned.

All of a sudden, the company is bigger than they ever told themselves it would be. The work isn't fun like it used to be.

I'm not a better person than my friends. If (ideally) Feel Train is successful, then I know I would say yes to growing it beyond our intentions. With this limit in place, I'll never have to tempt myself.

Worker ownership
I believe that labor is the source of value, which means that in order to run a just company, ownership must belong to the workers and solely to the workers. The question becomes: who owns how much?

In production-based industries (factories, agriculture, etc) there are cooperative models where it's a simple matter of converting hourly labor to percent ownership. If Ayesha clocks twice as many hours as Bert, then Ayesha owns twice as much of the company as Bert.

But measuring labor is tricky in a creative industry. Why it's so tricky is a huge topic outside the scope of this article, but Courtney and I have given this a lot of thought and the best answer we have is: don't measure labor. No time tracking.

This means that, when it comes to ownership, we simply give it away. Ownership means equal say in every strategic decision the company makes: one worker, one vote. This solution absolutely does not scale. I couldn't imagine direct democracy working smoothly in an organization of even 20 people let alone 100 or 1,000. But it'll work for 8 people.

This also means that investment does not translate to ownership. Courtney and I are investing a pretty big chunk of our savings to get Feel Train started, but this doesn't give us any special rights. The next person to join Feel Train, whoever that is, will own one third of the company. My share of the company will dilute from one half to one third, as will Courtney's. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about too much dilution. I can guarantee you that if you join Feel Train you will never own less than one eighth of the company as long as you work here.

This is all just the beginning...
It's a good feeling to help start a company I can feel proud of deep, deep down in my Marxist bones. And these two core principles of worker ownership and non-scalability are just the foundation. Courtney has a ton of thoughts on the management of creative workers, and she'll talk about those in the future. If you're eager to hear more about all this, sign up for our monthly mailing list!"]

[See also: https://tinyletter.com/superopinionated/letters/super-opinionated-power-club-16-live-from-open-source-bridge ]
courtneystanton  dariuskazemi  bots  labor  technology  coding  feeltrain  humanism  cooperatives  groupsize  ownership  marxism  production  directdemocracy  organizations  growth  size  employment  lcproject  openstudioproject  scale  scalability  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  small  slow  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: 'In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change' book, and Helsinki Design Lab
"In particular, much strategic work for government clients in particular suffers from a major flaw—the lack of a ‘hinge’ connecting the work to a clear pathway to projects, or further work. If the workshop is free, as it often is in new, challenging, transformational areas where there is no clear understanding of value from previous efforts, it's particularly difficult, Here, the client is barely a client at all in one of the more meaningful senses i.e. they haven’t paid for it, they don’t have ‘skin in the game’.

Equally, studios can usefully bring together multiple stakeholders. Yet with complex interdependent problems requiring holistic thinking and action—e.g. climate change, health, urbanisation, education—this can lead to no one body taking responsibility, and so potential solutions fall through the cracks between organisations or within one organisation's architecture (fig.2 below) i.e. education is no longer the sole responsibility of the Department of Educaiton; it's more complex, hybrid, layered, networked than that (add your descriptor of choice).

Finally, workshops or studios lend themselves to a particular kind of focus, based on conversation and collaboration—yet they rarely provide the depth of analysis to tightly define an issue such that it can be developed into action. This often requires subsequent work, by which time the potential client has left the building and achieved escape velocity, easily side-stepping momentum generated in the workshop. The workshop model, which is often the foot-in-the-door for consultancies in this field, is intrinsically flawed.

The Helsinki Design Lab studio model is designed to side-step or otherwise deal with many of these problems. This is partly due to the nature and position of Sitra itself, particularly if strategic connections can be generated across relevant government bodies. Sitra has, to some extent, the capacity to can reach into and manipulate the 'dark matter' of organisation, governance, culture, industry (fig.3). [PS. "Dark matter" is a phrase I've been using in recent presentations and conversations (drawn from Wouter Vanstiphout in a great interview with Rory Hyde) and one I'll return to. It's not as bad as it sounds, just like real dark matter. Though it can be.]"



"The Helsinki Design Lab approach, which we're developing rapidly now, is an attempt to flesh out many strands of strategic design that we're pursuing. This first aspect, the studio, is about sketching vision. The idea of studio itself is at least three-fold, simultaneously conjuring up the idea of a space, a team or organisation, and an act of being 'in studio'."



"I think, I hope, that it suggests one possible meaningful way forward for design itself, as well as suggesting new cultures for the public sector, for thinking about complex, interdependent problems, and for rapidly creating practical yet compelling visions built on a clear understanding of 'the architecture of the problem', as we call it. "



"More fundamentally though, we intend that this is the first in a series of projects which describe how design can be used beyond these details of production of space, realisation of product or service. Often, of course, design is used in this traditional if limited role of process improvement and problem solving—the realisation of 'the thing'—without addressing the core issue, the core strategy, the vision and organisations behind 'the thing' in the first place. We think design has a role to play before we even know what the questions are, never mind the solutions. That's what this book begins to address. Subsequent projects—some products/services/things, some events, some discussion—will develop this idea."
danhill  2011  lcproject  openstudioproject  culture  decisionmaking  process  studios  studioclassroom  strategicdesign  design  vision  organization  organizations  bryanboyer 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Alex Blandford — Government and the cargo cult
"As part of work with Parliament User Group recently, we’ve been trying to think about the institutional blockers to reform and “progress” (without the Soviet, vanguardist associations).

One of the ones that came up a few times was the issue of “we’ve always done it like this, so we shall continue to do it like this”. Inertia is a powerful force in large organisations, especially ones with an aversion to being seen to fuck up.

There is an obverse to this, especially in the case of Parliament and a lot of Local Authorities: “We’re not GDS, so we won’t do anything that they do”. Wishing to have a sense of individuality is not uncommon. We’ll do this thing - we’ll succeed. We’ll show them.

Both of these behaviours come from a lack of strategic understanding. Simon Wardley has put it around 1000x better than I could: “why does a general bombard a hill? It isn’t because 95% of other generals did the same thing”.

[video]

Understanding where your business/organisation is going is absolutely vital. Merely saying (in government especially) that you will do open source because GDS did it (but did they really) or that you won’t be focusing on user needs as you are internal only (no word of a lie, have had this chat) is doomed to failure, and likely an expensive and public failure.

Mimicry in this space is often called Cargo Culting; an allusion to a particular fascination of anthropologists in the post-war period (although it goes back a lot further).

You can read up on it at wikipedia including how it came to be used in this context. But my problem with this is that cargo cults and their formation have very little to do with the way that we use the phrase, and I am hugely uncomfortable with the ethnocentrism involved in using the phrase. It relies on an implicit assumption that people in “tribes” are somehow dumb and that they see an airplane and thus mimic it like children. There is a huge long list of reading on how we treat people in tribes like children, and rob them of a claim to complex thought. I’d like to think we can do better in our metaphors.

So I thought I’d try and reverse this a little bit. Taking the same broad brush strokes as everyone else, I’d like to consider Trobriand Cricket. It’s not quite in the same bit of the Pacific as the cargo cults, but it has a similar use of “western” ideas.

[video]

This game is a syncretic mix of cricket as introduced by missionaries to the Trobriand Islands (along with football), and the rituals of war on the islands. It includes teams whose victory dances for a catch include references to WW2 soldiers and military materiel. Many of the islanders are university educated.

Now. Unless we’re going to say that Norwich City’s canary branding is part of an animistic shaman cult led by Delia Smith, this all seems quite normal for sport. Or even life. You have a game, you change it to fit your local context. You understand your strategy. It is also worth pointing out that the Prince Philip Movement’s cult of personality around the Duke of Edinburgh wouldn’t look out of place in the comments section of a number of national newspapers.

Here’s where it breaks down though. The game was imposed by missionaries. The way that these people lived was changed irreparably by British colonialism. The power dynamics in this idea are huge. So changing the game becomes a response to colonialism. A way of maintaining some control against overwhelming power.

And there is where my discomfort is. What people in the Pacific were often doing was a response to the invasion of their land, and its use as a strategic assett in war. Many islanders died. The power relations and political history of the phrase have been shed so that it becomes a glib way of comparing someone’s actions to the old saying about the definition of insanity as being the repetition of something expecting a previous result to the previous time.

As I mentioned yesterday, ‘disruption’ can feel like an existential threat to the status quo. It is all around us, and the internet is going to change how you do your job. Or else someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying your work of the kid at the next desk won’t work. Learning together and open conversation might help. But treat this as a plea: don’t get sucked in by tired cliche. Shorthand is just that - a reminder of the nuance and complexity that has been left out.

Go out and explore that."
alexblandford  2015  cargocult  disruption  complexity  nuance  copying  mimicry  imitation  systemsthinking  organizations  power  anthropology  ethnography  gds 
october 2015 by robertogreco
CLASS DISMISSED: A ROUNDTABLE ON ART SCHOOL, USC, AND COOPER UNION by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Helen Molesworth, Mike Essl, Jory Rabinovitz, Lee Relvas, Amanda Ross-Ho, Victoria Sobel, Frances Stark, A. L. Steiner, Charlie White - artforum.com / in print
[via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/652215259235807232 ]

"IN AN ERA when creative economies are leading the hypermonetization of every aspect of life, from attention and identity to privacy and time, it’s not surprising that this country’s most progressive models of art education are under attack. In fact, the liberal arts and humanities are besieged across the board, increasingly expected to justify their funding, even their very existence, in universities and beyond. We are witnessing a massive cultural shift when we see the corporatization of higher education—with its top-down power structures, bloated bureaucracies, “synergistic” partnerships with the private sector, relegation of faculty to contingent adjunct labor, and reliance on students as revenue streams—spiking tuition costs and sending student debt ballooning.

All this has come dramatically to a head this past year on both coasts, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It is sadly predictable and all the more alarming that the ever-accelerating process of financialization should upend two of the most vital art schools in America, each of which has been based on the endangered premise of a tuition-free or fully funded education. While the specific circumstances and institutional histories make the nature of each crisis distinct, they both betray the wrenching cultural shifts produced by a head-on collision with the technocratic crusaders of contemporary capitalism.

Following its board of directors’ decision to abandon Cooper Union’s tuition-free mandate, which had stood for more than 150 years, the school’s president and five trustees resigned amid an ongoing inquiry into the institution’s finances by the New York State Attorney General. The grassroots Committee to Save Cooper Union has taken legal action to preserve the venerable institution’s founding mission of free education, and to call attention to the fiscal mismanagement and lack of accountability on the part of the school’s board of trustees. [Eds. note: As this issue was going to press, the Attorney General announced that a settlement had been reached and that Cooper Union would work to eventually reinstate free tuition.] At USC Roski, the drastic restructuring and reduction in funding for the school’s renowned graduate program by a new dean’s administration prompted high-profile, tenured faculty to resign in protest and the entire MFA class of 2016 to drop out en masse earlier this year, citing unacceptable changes to funding packages, curriculum, and faculty.

Debates over art education have a long history, of course. A groundbreaking and utopian model that remains relevant today is Black Mountain College, which nurtured cultural and pedagogical innovation at mid-century and which is the subject of a major exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, opening on October 10. Artforum invited the show’s curator, HELEN MOLESWORTH, to join eight distinguished participants—from Cooper, faculty MIKE ESSL and alumni JORY RABINOVITZ and VICTORIA SOBEL; and from USC Roski, current or former faculty members FRANCES STARK, CHARLIE WHITE, and A. L. STEINER; alumna AMANDA ROSS-HO; and LEE RELVAS, one of the seven class-of-2016 students who dropped out—to discuss the current situation at both institutions and the histories, challenges, and continued promise of art school."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: We’ve convened today to talk about the current crises at USC and Cooper, both of which are symptoms of larger problems facing the entire concept of art education in this country. And for many schools today, Black Mountain College remains a key model for art education after World War II.

In the face of this crisis, Black Mountain is even more relevant to the current situation than one might think: It was a program born of extraordinary optimism, but it was also born of dissent, born of a firing of tenured faculty, born of a group of teachers and students deciding that they needed to own the means of production themselves and create an institution in which there were no trustees or board of regents, so they could collectively control the college. It had an extraordinary efflorescence and was a wellspring of the American avant-garde; the curriculum at BMC influenced many of the practices that define contemporary studio and liberal-arts programs—group critiques, collaboration, interdisciplinarity. It also failed beautifully and wonderfully and spectacularly at its end: It was short-lived, running only from 1933 to 1957.

Which leads me to the most basic and perhaps the most unanswerable question: Why now? Why are extremely successful, renowned arts-education departments on both coasts under attack in the way that they are at Cooper and USC? Are they—and Black Mountain—anomalies, experiments that could never last? Or are they victims of some of the nastiest tactics of our neoliberal new economy?"



"LEE RELVAS: I’m one of the seven MFA students who just dropped out from USC. We dropped out collectively to protest the school’s reneging on funding and curricular promises made to us, because that funding model and pedagogical model were clearly no longer considered valuable under the new dean’s leadership. But we also wanted to protest publicly the economics of higher education: namely, the normalization of massive student debt.

We range in age from twenty-seven to forty-one years old. So we actually did know what we were getting into as far as the debt that we thought we were going to be taking on, as well as the lack of teaching opportunities, and if we were so lucky to get a teaching job, how little most of those teaching jobs paid.

But we still wanted two years of time and space to be artists and thinkers and to be in close conversation with each other. And outside these flawed institutions, there is little material and cultural support for that."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: In New York, do you have a similar sense that the faculty and the students at Cooper were unable to articulate the value of free tuition to the board?

MIKE ESSL: I think we did articulate it but we weren’t heard, and it was all the more disturbing to me because of my own personal understanding of that value. My dad is a mechanic and my mom is a bookkeeper. They didn’t go to college and they didn’t save for college, and me going to college was just never on their radar. And Cooper Union gave me permission to go to art school. Without that freedom, without being able to tell my parents essentially to fuck off, I don’t know where I would be now. [Laughter.]

And what that does for, say, a lower-middle-class student, that permission, the way it lowers the risk of art school and allows you to even conceive of going, is something that the board of trustees did not care about at all.

We would hear about how the cost of teaching artists is too expensive and that when artists graduate they don’t donate, and there was really no consideration of the artist as a person in the world at all. And so for those people to be the board members of a school like Cooper Union, I would argue, is criminal. They just refused to hear any arguments.

JORY RABINOVITZ: There was no dialogue, no transparency. There was never any mention of charging tuition while I was at Cooper. I started when the demolition of the Abram S. Hewitt Memorial art building, and the construction of the new Thom Mayne–designed academic center, 41 Cooper Square, in its place, was just beginning. The three-year transition phase completely displaced the art school and literally split it in two, sending half of the classes and studios to a rented building in Long Island City. Since the art school donated the least and protested the most, it really felt like we were being singled out to receive this weird form of punishment or austerity measure. Many of the school’s questionable financial decisions that are currently under investigation happened at the very same time. So when I look at the new building, it’s hard not to see a big perforated smoke screen.

MIKE ESSL: They showed up at the table already having decided that our model was old-fashioned and could no longer be supported. Which is why we have been saying all along that it’s a cultural problem, not an economic one."



"A. L. STEINER: Eighty percent of USC’s faculty is now adjunct and contingent. This is part of an ideology of austerity being embraced at the school, even though its undergraduate program ranks sixteenth in tuition nationwide and the university is one of twenty schools nationwide responsible for one-fifth of the country’s graduate-school student debt. The dean’s thinking came down to a gamble—that the graduate faculty’s interactions, and the program’s funding and curricular promises, were unnecessary. There’s a bigger agenda in play, and it’s intertwined with the value and significance of an arts education in a technocratic regime, in a world where the nonprofit sector exists as a manifestation of the private sector."



"FRANCES STARK: But you have to consider that in context. I was on the search committee for the new dean in the spring of 2013, and the problem of financial sustainability was not explicitly on the table when we were interviewing candidates. The entire process seemed perfunctory: It became clear that the interim dean was the internal candidate they wanted, and who, it was later disclosed, was somehow attached to the $70 million gift from Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to endow a new school of “Art, Technology and the Business of Innovation” at USC. Erica Muhl, who became dean, has zero background in contemporary fine art, design, or art history. She is not conversant with these fields at all. I asked her, “What is your vision for the school?” And she responded, “To be number one.” No joke. OK? She told the graduate students: “The future of art is Mark Zuckerberg… [more]
cooperunion  blackmountaincollege  usc  art  arteducation  education  highered  highereducation  helenmolesworth  mikeessl  joryrabinovitz  leerelvas  amandaross-ho  victoriasobel  francesstark  alsteiner  charliewhite  sarahlehrer-graiwer  via:caseygollan  activism  neoliberalism  capitalism  politics  conversation  proximity  ambiguity  joy  meritocracy  organizations  institutions  bmc  arts  humanities  schools  tcsnmy  progressive  technocracy  artseducation  culture  thinking  optimism  bauhaus  calarts  community  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Difference Between Culture and Values « Only Once – Matt Blumberg
"This topic has been bugging me for a while, so I am going to use the writing of this post as a means of working through it. We have a great set of core values here at Return Path. And we also have a great corporate culture, as evidenced by our winning multiple employer of choice awards, including being Fortune Magazine’s #2 best medium-sized workplace in America.

But the two things are different, and they’re often confused. I hear statements all the time, both here and at other companies, like “you can’t do that — it’s not part of our culture,” “I like working there, because the culture is so great,” and “I hope our culture never changes.” And those statements reveal the disconnect.

Here’s my stab at a definition. Values guide decision-making and a sense of what’s important and what’s right. Culture is the collection of business practices, processes, and interactions that make up the work environment.

A company’s values should never really change. They are the bedrock underneath the surface that will be there 10 or 100 years from now. They are the uncompromising core principles that the company is willing to live and die by, the rules of the game. To pick one value, if you believe in Transparency one day, there’s no way the next day you decide that being Transparent is unimportant. Can a value be changed? I guess, either a very little bit at a time, slowly like tectonic plates move, or in a sharp blow as if you deliberately took a jackhammer to stone and destroyed something permanently. One example that comes to mind is that we added a value a couple years back called Think Global, Act Local, when we opened our first couple of international offices. Or a startup that quickly becomes a huge company might need to modify a value around Scrappiness to make it about Efficiency. Value changes are few and far between.

If a company’s values are its bedrock, then a company’s culture is the shifting landscape on top of it. Culture is the current embodiment of the values as the needs of the business dictate. Landscapes change over time — sometimes temporarily due to a change in seasons, sometimes permanently due to a storm or a landslide, sometimes even due to human events like commercial development or at the hand of a good gardener.

So what does it mean that culture is the current embodiment of the values as the needs of the business dictate? Let’s go back to the value of Transparency. When you are 10 people in a room, Transparency means you as CEO may feel compelled to share that you’re thinking about pivoting the product, collect everyone’s point of view on the subject, and make a decision together. When you are 100 people, you probably wouldn’t want to share that thinking with ALL until it’s more baked, you have more of a concrete direction in mind, and you’ve stress tested it with a smaller group, or you risk sending people off in a bunch of different directions without intending to do so. When you are 1,000 employees and public, you might not make that announcement to ALL until it’s orchestrated with your earnings call, but there may be hundreds of employees who know by then. A commitment to Transparency doesn’t mean always sharing everything in your head with everyone the minute it appears as a protean thought. At 10 people, you can tell everyone why you had to fire Pat – they probably all know, anyway. At 100 people, that’s unkind to Pat. At 1,000, it invites a lawsuit.

Or here’s another example. Take Collaboration as a value. I think most people would agree that collaboration managed well means that the right people in the organization are involved in producing a piece of work or making a decision, but that collaboration managed poorly means you’re constantly trying to seek consensus. The culture needs to shift over time in order to make sure the proper safeguards are in place to prevent collaboration from turning into a big pot of consensus goo – and the safeguards required change as organizations scale. In a small, founder-driven company, it often doesn’t matter as much if the boss makes the decisions. The value of collaboration can feel like consensus, as they get to air their views and feel like they’re shaping a decision, even though in reality they might not be. In a larger organization with a wider range of functional specialists managing their own pieces of the organization, the boss doesn’t usually make every major decision, though guys like Ellison, Benioff, Jobs, etc. would disagree with that. But in order for collaboration to be effective, decisions need to be delegated and appropriate working groups need to be established to be clear on WHO is best equipped to collaborate, and to what extent. Making these pronouncements could come as feeling very counter-cultural to someone used to having input, when in fact they’re just a new expression of the same value.

I believe that a business whose culture never evolves slowly dies. Many companies are very dynamic by virtue of growth or scaling, or by being in very dynamic markets even if the company itself is stable in people or product. Even a stable company — think the local hardware store or barber shop — will die if it doesn’t adapt its way of doing business to match the changing norms and consumption patterns in society.

This doesn’t mean that a company’s culture can’t evolve to a point where some employees won’t feel comfortable there any longer. We lost our first employee on the grounds that we had “become too corporate” when we reached the robust size of 25 employees. I think we were the same company in principles that day as we had been when we were 10 people (and today when we are approaching 500), but I understood what that person meant.

My advice to leaders: Don’t cling to every aspect of the way your business works as you scale up. Stick to your core values, but recognize that you need to lead (or at least be ok with) the evolution of your culture, just as you would lead (or be ok with) the evolution of your product. But be sure you’re sticking to your values, and not compromising them just because the organization scales and work patterns need to change. A leader’s job is to embody the values. That impacts/produces/guides culture. But only the foolhardy leaders think they can control culture.

My advice to employees: Distinguish between values and culture if you don’t like something you see going on at work. If it’s a breach of values, you should feel very free to wave your arms and cry foul. But if it’s a shifting of the way work gets done within the company’s values system, give a second thought to how you complain about it before you do so, though note that people can always interpret the same value in different ways. If you believe in your company’s values, that may be a harder fit to find and therefore more important than getting comfortable with the way those values show up.

Note: I started writing this by talking about the foundation of a house vs. the house itself, or the house itself vs. the furniture inside it. That may be a more useful analogy for you. But hopefully you get the idea."
business  culture  values  organizations  2015  mattblumberg  change 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Learning in Landscapes: Research, Design, Praxis | T. Steele-Maley
"One of my summer research strands is to extend the work and design I am doing around participatory and practice based learning. I have found a few works exceptionally helpful and thought I would list them here in hopes others will too.

On my desk and causing an outpouring of thought and design is Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Boundaries, identity, and knowledgeability in practice-based learning.

What I like about this work is that it builds previous works of Wenger and Lave on situational learning, perspective and identity specifically: Wenger (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity: Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives on CoP’s and the foundational work of Lave and Wenger on situational learning (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation: Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives . I will also add the book all in education should read on critical ethnography by Lave (2011) Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice .

I find each of these works intriguing and valuable towards the design of new professional development, organizational, and ultimately educational ecologies. Learning in Landscapes of Practice…. resonates because the concept of knowledgeability is so salient to schools and educational ecologies. In education, our silos for competency are legion and attempts to integrate professional development and participatory learning for the whole organization are very difficult. One of the main reasons for this, is our lack of robust frameworks to understand and critique the whole educational system that exists, quite often at this point, to perpetuate itself, as opposed to the needs of learners and communities.

This is tough work to tackle and the space of theory in schools often neglected. A common refrain in K-12 schools, “We do not have enough time for theory, we just need to….”, or, “we will leave that to the experts”. These views are at opposition with the reality that education is a social construct, that must be theorized, constructed/reconstructed through praxis, and care-taken by individuals in the community. No educator, parent or policymaker should leave the spaces of education, specifically praxis, unexamined. So where theory can open your eyes to a million valleys of thought and wonder, ultimately praxis allows for experience, knowledge building and networking towards both the boundaries and possibilities of education. These are critical conversations to have in education and society and I feel we need to tae a much closer look at what we are doing.

If you have considered these works in the K-12, Higher Ed or informal learning space please do reach out, via comment here or by way of Twitter, email…."
thomassteelemaley  lcproject  openstudioproject  experientialeducation  education  interdisciplinary  systemsthinking  raxis  2015  étiennewenger  ethnography  theory  practice  jeanlave  situationist  situatedlearning  community  communitiesofpractice  school  tcsnmy  professionaldevelopment  educationalecologies  knowledgeability  silos  transdisciplinary  organizations  organizationaldesign  socialconstructs  society  meta  experientiallearning 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Amelia Greenhall: Start your own b(r)and: Everything I know about starting collaborative, feminist publications
[via: "Is there something like a website framework for starting an organization? Like boilerplate/best practices on decision-making, structure,"
https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/598262858661699584

"This guide by @ameliagreenhall feels like the closest thing to what I'm imagining…but not as generic as a "framework" http://ameliagreenhall.com/posts/start-your-own-b-r-and-everything-i-know-about-starting-collaborative-feminist-publications "
https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/598263698147377152

"I have a hard time believing there isn't already a whole universe out there of "forkable" sets of principles, how-tos, bylaws, workflows?"
https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/598264178994974720 ]
via:caseygollan  advice  branding  publishing  startups  publications  howto  organization  bestpractices  frameworks  principles  workflows  organizations  2015  tutorials 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Jony’s Patience — Medium
"There are a lot of opinions and ideas about how building a company should be done, but there’s no instruction manual. Every company is different, they change over time, and people are complicated. It’s political, it’s emotional, it’s messy. Sometimes all that company building stuff feels like it gets in the way of just designing the damn product. We all just want to focus on designing and making great things, but building the company is what will support you to do the work you aspire to do…and it takes a long time. When company stuff gets complicated, its easy to complain, to point at the people you think are responsible, or to just quit.

But it’s your job to help. Your role in a company isn’t to just be the designer of products; Your role is to be a designer of that company, to help it become the company that has the ability to make the products you aspire to make. When you joined your company, you probably didn’t think you signed up to help build the company too, but you did. By helping to make your company a better place to work, you make it a better place to design and build things. If you believe that design is critical to the success of the company you’re working for, then you need to prove it everyday. Don’t just think about that one product you need to design in the next 3, 6, or 12 months. Consider the skills, relationships, and tools that you and your company will need for the next 2, 5, 7, or 10 years and start working on them now. Don’t just measure yourself by the output of your very next project; Measure yourself by how you’re improving quality over the course of your next 10 projects. Measure yourself by the quality of the projects of your peers. When you see problems, go tackle them, even if nobody told you to. Put it on yourself to make it better, so that your current and future colleagues won’t have to deal with that same problem. Your job is to be the shoulders that the next generation of designers — and perhaps your future self — at your company will stand on."



"I don’t know whether I have the kind of patience necessary to stay with one company for 20 years, but I assume that people who stay at companies that long don’t plan to from the beginning. I imagine that at some point Jony Ive was enjoying his work so much that he stopped paying attention to the years. What I try to do in my work now is to approach it as if I will be there in 20 years, still pushing. I think about the kinds of products I hope to be building in the next several years, and what capabilities my team and I will need to be able to build those products. As I work on projects in the near term, I try to make sure I’m also making investments in myself, my colleagues, and my team for the long, long term. Working this way helps to make the environment I’m working in continuously better; As it gets better, there’s more reason to just keep going. The distractions fall away. Who knows, maybe the next 20 years will fly by.

If you knew you would stay at your current company for 20 years, what would you do differently, starting tomorrow?
“Even a small thing takes a few years. To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years, more likely seven or eight.” — Steve Jobs, 1995
"

[via: "A great post from @mkruz about patience. I think it applies to education too. https://medium.com/@mkruz/jony-s-patience-670d5a3dc128”
https://twitter.com/matthewward/status/580060988478734336 ]
mikekruzeniski  patience  jonyive  2015  time  education  persistance  organizations  business  longview  billflora  design  technology  tenure  1995  stevejobs  jonathanive 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: blog all kindle highlights: The Rhesus Chart
"Read The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross a while ago. Only one highlight. Again, not because it's a bad book, just not that sort of book. This was a resonant expression though.

"A bureaucracy is all about standardization, so that necessary tasks can be accomplished regardless of the abilities of the human resources assigned to it.""
charliestross  russelldavies  2015  standardization  bureaucracy  humanresources  design  organizations 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Culture Stories: Introduction and Milk.
"So that was a very mundane story about milk. Why did I share it? Because I think sharing stories like these is how we increase and improve culture. It’s not something that can be fixed by having TW3 meetings with senior management. While the senior management should absolutely read these, and (sometimes) discuss them, the act of writing and sharing them itself is how to improve the way we work.

In case you were in doubt, I’m not suggesting that sharing milk is how you improve the culture. Maybe sharing milk isn’t the right culture for a particular organisation, but I’d be interested in hearing why.

These discussions should be in the open. They may not be interesting to people outside your organisation (although you may be surprised), but knowing that they are public will help prevent them being too inward looking. Remember that (hopefully) new people will be joining your team regularly, remember that you are not an isolated team.

So share your culture stories! Maybe we’ll find somewhere to collate them. Or tell me why you think this is a stupid idea. If no-one convincingly does the latter, then I hope to post up a few more of my own.

To kick us off, here are some stories by Alice Bartlett6 that encouraged me to do this one: Six Months at GDS and Tampon Club. I also highly recommend reading Hidden dangers of team building rituals for some wise words on ensuring you’re not being exclusionary."

[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2014/12/02/filtered ]
culture  milk  offices  management  government  jamesdarling  organizations  sharing  collectivism  teams  2014  tamponclub  alicebartlett 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: if you're not a bottleneck
"I came across this advice from Eric Schmidt about handling email, which, sort of, makes sense.

“Respond quickly: There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can’t. Strive to be one of the former. Most of the best — and busiest — people we know act quickly on their emails, not just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone.”

Well, it absolutely makes sense if you're at the very tippy top of a large organisation and what that organisation mostly wants you to do is make decisions. If, in fact, you're a bottleneck.

But it reminded me that most of the business advice you get is from people who are at the top of organisations, and they're by definition not typical. I presume, for instance, that Google and Eric Schmidt have jointly adapted such that he only has to send short, quick emails.

Advice derived from looking at successful people is very often to behave in a way that only the powerful can get away with. There should be more advise for the less powerful."
privilege  power  ericschmidt  russelldavies  2014  organizations  success  behavior 
october 2014 by robertogreco
We Don’t Need New Models, We Need a New Mindset | Art Museum Teaching
"The old models we’re using aren’t matching up with the deeply complex challenges we’re faced with right now.

Income/Revenue
Old model: Ticket sales + government + foundation + corporate + wealthy patrons + small donors + endowment income = Balanced budget
New challenge: To generate new sources of sustained revenue and capital

Audience development
Old model: Sell subscriptions and market shows
New challenge: To engage new and more diverse groups of people in meaningful arts experiences

Governance
Old model: Give/get boards focused on fiduciary oversight and maintaining stability
New challenge: To cultivate boards that are partners in change

Evaluation
Old model: More ticket sales, more revenue, bigger budget, nice building = Success!
New challenge: To evaluate the success of our organizations based on the value they create in people’s lives

Leadership development
Old model: Attend leadership conferences and seminars, build your network, wait for your boss to finally leave/retire/die. (Alternatively, change jobs every year.)
New challenge: To develop a generation of new leaders equipped with the tools they’ll need to tackle the wickedly complex challenges the future has in store

Artistic development
Old model: MFA programs, residencies, commissions, occasionally a grant, get a day job
New challenge: To support artists in making a living and a life

Strategic planning
Old model: Decide where you want to be in 5 years. Outline the steps to get there in a long document no one will read.
New challenge: To plan for the future in a way that allows us to stay close to our core values and make incremental improvement while also making room for experimentation, failure, and rapidly changing conditions.

Funding allocation
Old model: The money goes to whoever the funder says it to goes to. Usually bigger organizations run by white people in major cities.
Our challenge today: To distribute funds in a way that is equitable, geographically diverse, and creates the most value

Note: I decided I was too ignorant in the areas of creative placemaking, advocacy and arts education to weigh in. I’ll leave that to my colleagues.

Here’s my main argument

Over 60 years in the field, we’ve developed standard practices, or models, in all these different areas. They worked for a while. Now they don’t. This has given us a false notion that we need new models in each area. This is wrong.

Models, best practices, recipes, and blueprints work only when your challenge has a knowable, replicable solution. Sure, there are some challenges that fit this mold. I’d argue that having a great website, designing an effective ad, doing a successful crowd funding campaign, and producing a complicated show are all challenges where best practices, models, and experts are really valuable. You might not know the solution, but someone does, and you can find it out.

But what happens when there actually isn’t a knowable solution to your challenge? When there is no expert, no model to call upon? When the only way forward is through experimentation and failure?

I’d argue that every one of the big challenges I name above falls into the realm of complexity, where the search for replicable models is fruitless. There isn’t going to be a new model for generating revenue that the field can galvanize around that will work for every or even most arts organizations. Nor is there going to be a long lasting model for community engagement that can be replicated by organizations across the country. For the deeply complex challenges we face today, there simply isn’t a knowable solution or model that can reliably help us tackle them. These kinds of challenges require a new way of working.

We don’t need new models, we need a new theory of practice

Instead of new models, I’d argue that we need a new theory of practice, one that champions a different set of priorities in how we do our work.

Our old models imply a vision of success that’s rooted in growth, stability, and excellence. They drive us towards efficiency and competition by perpetuating an atmosphere of scarcity. They are not as creative as we are.

What if a new vision of success in our field could prioritize resilience, flexibility, and intimacy? What if we could be enablers, not producers? What if we could harness the abundance of creative potential around us?

This new vision of success doesn’t demand consensus around a new set of standards, best practices, or “examples for imitation,” it demands a new way of thinking and acting that empowers us to shift and change our routines all the time, as needed.

A proposed theory of practice for the future

Here is my call to the field: a proposed set of practices that align with the world as it is today, not as it was before:

• Let’s get clear about the challenges we’re facing and if they’re complex, treat them as such
• Let’s ask hard questions, listen, do research, and stay vulnerable to what we learn.
• Let’s question our assumptions and let go of what’s no longer working.
• Let’s embrace ambiguity and conflict as a crucial part of change
• Let’s bring together people with different experiences and lean into difference
• Let’s experiment our way forward and fail often
• Let’s recognize the system in which we’re operating.
• Let’s rigorously reflect and continuously learn

In conclusion

When I set out to write this post, I wanted to question the premise that a conversation about “broken models” could even be useful in a time when expertise, excellence and replicability are the values of the past. I wanted to propose that we move past the very notion of models – let’s jettison the word itself from our vocabulary.

In the end, I guess you could call what I’ve proposed a kind of “new model.” But I’d rather think of it as a new mindset."
change  museums  museumeducation  2014  complexity  organizations  models  paradigmshifts  theory  karinamangu-ward  practice  bestpractices  experience  difference  funding  strategicplanning  corevalues  values  experimentation  failure  art  arteducation  leadership  evaluation  purpose  governance  audience  income  revenue 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Sam Hamill :: NewPages.com Interview
"NP: How did the press take off from there?

Hamill: In the fall of 1973, I met with Bill Ransom, who lived in Port Townsend. He and Joe Wheeler, who invented a non-profit arts organization called Centrum, were putting together a Port Townsend Symposium—they changed the name when it was pointed out that Symposium meant “to gather and drink.” They invited me to come and work with Centrum. They gave me a building in Port Townsend that was, for several years, rent-free. So I came here in utter poverty and lived in a travel-trailer, cleared some land, built my own house, and lived for several years. I had no regular income. I was basically supporting us and helping to support the press by teaching in prisons part time, in Artists in the Schools Programs, and working with battered women and children.

NP: Did that ever change, where Copper Canyon Press was making enough money that you didn’t have to support it?

Hamill: It changed in the 90s but it also radically changed the nature of the press, which is why I’m no longer there. It became a corporation, which creates corporate behavior, which is a kind of poison. People get involved in power and money and they lose sight of the real work. You have employees rather than real people who want to give something. That’s just the nature of corporate consciousness and I suppose it has to be because that’s what it’s there for. People make middle class incomes and live bourgeois lives. For the first 20 years of the press’s life, we lived “Buddhist economics,” which means we were not paid. That changes radically when you get a board of directors. You suddenly get bourgeois values and practices, a capitalist practice, in something that hadn’t been that way before.

It’s not that Copper Canyon makes money. Non profit corporations don’t make money. 40-50% of every book that you buy from Copper Canyon or other nonprofit presses comes from fundraising and donations.

NP: So you’ve thrown out “corporate culture” as an appropriate kind of work environment. What kind of work environment do you think a literary press should create and cultivate in its stead?

I didn’t “throw it out.” I simply pointed out that “incorporation” creates a board of directors that may change the direction, the focus and practice, of the organization."



"NP: What are some of the experiences along the way that have proved rewarding?

Hamill: All of the above.

NP: Including leaving Copper Canyon?

Hamill: Well, I chose to go out on my feet [rather] than remain on my knees.

If I didn’t learn anything else in 32 years, I learned to stand up for something against powerful bourgeois forces, and whether that something was as broad and indefinable as poetry or whether it’s really a simple system of ethics, it’s what has sustained me most of my adult life. I’m sure most of that goes back to Zen practice, but I liked being in the service of poetry, and I did a lot of homework so I could do it efficiently and well."



"NP: What are the most common difficulties you encountered? How did you solve them?

Hamill: As presses age, as it were, the major problem is dealing with boards of directors and the eternal fundraising problem, and it’s cyclical, and it’s infinite, and it’s consuming, and it really isn’t very healthy, this perpetual begging for money. I’m not opposed to it—I’m a good Buddhist—but I also think you need to work in the garden.

The “garden” is the labor- and time-intensive investment in our future, whether as working artists or as publishers. What I plant and nourish this year may bear fruit five years down the line. It’s work done for its own sake, for investment in one’s convictions.

Boards of directors are composed mostly of business people who also care about the arts. They want “success,” which means sales, reducing poetry to a commodity for the masses. Great poets rarely reach the masses during their lifetime. Nobody, really, read Whitman or Dickinson, for instance, until the mid-twentieth century. Sometimes the best poets sell in very low numbers during their lifetime. So there’s likely to be conflict in defining “success,” conflict between a visionary editor and his or her support system.

NP: Can a press that publishes poetry forgo that “begging for money”—in a country where people don’t buy poetry?

Hamill: You can’t say that. Part of the problem is that so much poetry is being published—over 2,000 titles each year. You don’t have to sell very many of each before you have a very large audience, but it’s a very eclectic audience. It can’t rival readers of pop fiction, but that’s why we’re nonprofit. We just need to find more efficient ways for the literati to have more control. There’s frankly too much bad poetry being published these days. Every graduating MFA has a fistful of publishable poetry, certified publishable by the institution. That’s foolish. It sets up a lot of false expectations. Most of those people cozy up to academia, where they live comfortable lives outside the mainstream of humanity. And they all publish and publish.

There’s a reason why sacrifice is such a major theme in poetry around the world. It’s a kind of religion. It’s the “vision thing.” We’re losing the tribal knowledge of the sacrifice that it takes to be a poet. We [poets] do this out of love. That is more important than a $60,000 salary. Desktop publishing is both wonderful and a horrible curse, because everything becomes immediately publishable.

Why do people who want to write not know anything about the history of writing? Why don’t they know anything about letter forms? I learned about those things because I wanted to write. I thought you should know where words come from and where letters come from. Did these letter-forms just suddenly appear? People talk about Chinese pictographs—but our D comes from the Greek, probably from Sumerian before that, and is a diagram of a door swinging on a hinge. Our A is from the Greek Alpha, which is a bull’s head turned upside down. So a lot of the letters in our alphabet go back to pictographic sources. We have such a wonderful hodgepodge of ideas in our writing, odds and ends of Greek and Spanish and Japanese. All these words creep into our language and sometimes change and sometimes connect with deep roots to their foreign cultures. It seems to me writers should know about that stuff, but we spend all our time on self-expression.

A good editor goes to school on language, on its sources and traditions, as well as on the poetry. The idea situation would be an endowed press, like New Directions, that allows a brilliant editor to be brilliant without the conflict between the numbers game and the vision of the practice."



"NP: OK, but I still want to know whether for-profit poetry presses can survive today. How did Copper Canyon survive for so many years before going non-profit?

We had an “umbrella organization” in Centrum that allowed us to get grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and we learned to master the arts of poverty. We studied hard and worked hard and made sacrifices for the good of the press."
samhamill  poetry  bookmaking  publishing  nonprofit  buddhism  buddhisteconomics  printing  economics  centrum  porttownsend  bourgeois  corporations  corporatism  organizations  power  money  coppercanyonpress  2006  capitalism  writing  mfa  nonprofits 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why Talking About The Future of Museums May Be Holding Museums Back | Know Your Own Bone
"Many resources focusing on “the future” are actually communicating about emerging trends that are happening right now…and when we call them “the future” we do our organizations a grave disservice.

Here’s why:

1. Things that are characterized as the future within the museum industry generally are not about the future at all

Check this out: Embracing millennials, mastering community management on social media, opening authority, heightening engagement with onsite technologies, breaking down ivory towers with shifts from prescription to participation, engaging more diverse audiences, utilizing mobile platforms, understanding the role of “digital,” breaking down organizational silos…These are things that we frequently discuss as if they are part of the future. But they aren’t. In fact, if your organization hasn’t already had deep discussions about these issues and begun evolving and deploying new strategies at this point, then you may arguably be too late in responding to forces challenging our sector today.

2. Calling it the future excuses putting off issues which are actually immediate needs for organizational survival

What if we called these things “The Right Now?” Would it be easier to get leadership to allocate resources to social media endeavors or deploy creative ways to grow stakeholder affinity by highlighting participation and personalization? Are we excusing the poor transition from planning to action by deferring most investments to “The Future?”

Basically, we’ve created a beat-around-the-bush way of talking about hard things that separates successful and unsuccessful organizations. For many less successful organizations struggling to find their footing in our rapidly evolving times, their go-to euphemistic solution for “immediate and difficult” seems to be “worth thinking about in the future.” When we call it “the future,” we excuse ourselves from thinking about these issues right now (which is exactly when we should be considering if not fully deploying them).

Contrast this deferment strategy with those of more successful organizations who invariably and reliably “beat the market to the spot.” It isn’t pure chance and serendipity that underpins successful engagement strategies – these are the product of ample foresight, planning, investment and action…all of it done many yesterdays ago!

3. The future implies uncertainty but trend data is not uncertain

Moreover, common wisdom supports that “the future” is uncertain. “We cannot tell the future.” Admittedly, some sources that aim to talk about the future truly attempt to open folks’ brains to a distant time period. However, much of what is shared by those we call “futurists” is not necessarily uncertain. In fact (and especially when it comes to trends in data), we’re not guessing. I’ve sat in on a few meetings within organizations in which trends and actual data are taken and then presented as “the future” or within the conversation of “things to discuss in the future.” Wait. What?

Certainly, new opportunities evolve and trends may ebb with shifting market sentiments…but why would an organization choose uncertainty over something that is known right now?

4. We may not be paying enough attention to right now

I don’t think that referring to “right now trends” as “the future” would be as potentially damaging to organizations if we spent enough time being more strategic and thoughtful about “right now trends” in general. Many organizations seem to be always playing catch-up with the present. If organizations are struggling to keep up with the present, how will they ever be adequately prepared for the future?

5. Talking about the future sometimes provides a false sense of innovation that may simply be vanity

To be certain, we all need “wins” – especially in nonprofit organizations where burnout is frequent and market perceptions are quickly changing. The need for evolution is constant and the want for a moment’s rest may be justified. That said, it seems as though talking about “the future” (which, as we’ve covered, is actually upon us) is often simply providing the opportunity for organizations to pat themselves on the back for “considering” movement instead of actually moving. To have the perceived luxury of being able to think about the future may give some leaders a false sense of security that they aren’t, in fact, constantly trying to keep up with the present.

Talking about “the future” seems to mean that you are talking about something that is – yes – perhaps cutting edge, but also uncertain, not urgent, not immediate, and somehow a type of creative brainstorming endeavor. While certainly brainstorming about the actual future may be beneficial (there are some great minds in the museum industry that do this!), it may be wise for organizations to realize that most of what we call “the future” is a too-nice way of reminding organizations that the world is turning as we speak and you may already be a laggard organization.

Think about your favorite museum or nonprofit thinker. My guess is that you consider that person to be a kind of futurist, but really, you may find that they are interesting to you because they are actually a “right-now-ist.” They provide ideas, thoughts, and innovative solutions about challenges that are currently facing your organization."
museums  innovation  future  futurism  now  programs  excuses  vanity  change  procrastination  certainty  uncertainty  2014  strategy  talk  leadership  administration  socialmedia  communitymanagement  authority  millennials  engagement  technology  edtech  mobile  digital  organizations  nonprofit  personalization  obsolescence  colleendilen  nonprofits 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Did Paul Goodman Change Your Life? | Jacobin
"Goodman’s disdain for the corporate-organized society tied together his various intellectual interests. For example, his Gestalt theory of psychology posited that, in order for people to overcome their sense of alienation, they must reject the social structures that impeded self-awareness or self-actualization. In other words, the pursuit of an authentic self was not merely narcissistic: it required political transformation. This commitment to political reform also grounded his writings on youth culture and education. Goodman said he was motivated to write on the topic of education after one particularly sad conversation with a group of teenage boys. When he asked the boys what they wanted to do when they grew up, they shrugged their shoulders and unanimously answered, “nothing,” a response that brought to his eyes “tears of frank dismay for the waste of our humanity.” Goodman believed that “the simple plight of these adolescents could not be remedied without a social revolution.”

Goodman’s educational philosophy, as he often made explicit, was not far removed from Dewey’s pragmatism: Dewey’s democratic theory of education was consistent with Goodman’s thoughts on autonomy and decentralization insofar as Dewey believed schools should permit children to be boisterous and physically active in pursuit of meaningful, authentic learning. Goodman agreed with the Deweyan theory that society should adjust to the innate demands of young people rather than vice versa. However, Goodman recognized and was harshly critical of the ways in which Dewey’s thought had been co-opted. “Dewey’s pragmatic and social-minded conceptions,” Goodman lamented, “have ended up as a service university, technocracy, labor bureaucracy, suburban togetherness.” He was sensitive to the fact that those who propagated the despised “Organized System” – those like James Conant who sacrificed the individual to the “cult of efficiency” – were prone to invoke the authority of Dewey in defense of their project. Goodman blamed Conant alongside a multiplicity of educational actors: “timid supervisors,” “bigoted clerics,” “ignorant schools boards,” and, last, but certainly not least, the “school-monks,” his label for “the administrators, professors, academic sociologists, and licensees with diplomas who have proliferated into an invested intellectual class worse than anything since the time of Henry the Eighth.”

The gravest error of the “school monks” was that they wanted to further inflict their methods of socialization upon teenagers because they wrongly attributed the growing number of juvenile delinquents or “beats” to the “failure of socialization.” He wrote:
Growing up is sometimes treated as if it were acculturation, the process of giving up one culture for another, the way a tribe of Indians takes on the culture of whites: so the wild babies give up their ‘individualistic’ mores and ideology, e.g., selfishness or magic thinking or omnipotence, and join the tribe of Society; they are ‘socialized.’ ‘Becoming cultured’ and ‘being adjusted to the social group’ are taken almost as synonymous.”

This socialization process, which he described as “‘vocational guidance’ to fit people wherever they are needed in the productive system,” troubled Goodman in means and ends. He both loathed the practice of adjusting children to society and despised the social regime in which children were being adjusted to – “our highly organized system of machine production and its corresponding social relations.” For Goodman, socialization was the problem, not the solution, and was doomed to failure because it prepared “kids to take some part in a democratic society that does not need them.”"
andrewhartman  2012  paulgoodman  johndewey  education  1960s  philosophy  unschooling  deschooling  organizations  resistance  children  youth  adolescence  progressive  institutionalization  literacy  democracy  anarchism  compulsoryschooling  compulsory 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Mark Allen Artist Lecture on Vimeo
"The LA Times writes that Mark Allen is “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’” Come hear a talk by Machine Project founder Mark Allen at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry: Step right up!

Mark Allen is an artist, educator and curator based in Los Angeles. He is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit performance and installation space investigating art, technology, natural history, science, music, literature, and food in an informal storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Machine Project also operates as a loose confederacy of artists producing shows at locations ranging from beaches to museums to parking lots. Under his direction Machine has produced shows with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, and the Walker Museum in Minneapolis. He has produced over 500 events in Los Angeles at the Machine Project storefront space, and recently concluded a year long artist residency addressing topics of public engagement at the Hammer Museum.

Machine Project events emphasize intersections between fields and practices, particularly where the arts and sciences meet. In a 2006 LA Weekly article, writer Gendy Alimurung described Machine Project as, “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’ “[2] Machine Project facilitates conversations between poets, technicians, artists, scientists, and obscure hobbyists and supports work that arises out of unusual combinations of interests. Past activities have included urban plant foraging and needlepoint therapy based on classic oil paintings. Machine Project prioritizes accessibility, explicitly courting amateur practitioners and curious locals. Workshops are regularly offered in sewing electronics, soldering, Arduino and Processing for artists.

In addition to weekly events held in the storefront gallery space in Echo Park, Machine Project operates as a gathering place for local and visiting artists to produce shows at various cultural institutions and events in Los Angeles. Frequent collaborators include Brody Condon, Liz Glynn, Kamau Patton, Corey Fogel, Jason Torchinsky, Chris Kallmyer, and Adam Overton. Machine Project has curated performances at the Glow Festival at Santa Monica Pier and at several art museums. Through their Artist in Residence program, Machine Project invites previous collaborators to develop larger projects that generally include a pedagogical element in addition to performances and exhibitions.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the CMU School of Art."
markallen  collaboration  participatoryart  2013  poetry  art  lcproject  openstudioproject  capitalism  machineproject  events  learning  education  museums  howwelearn  arts  audience  process  howwework  experimentation  gender  curiosity  identity  titles  ambiguity  adaptability  makerspaces  hackerspaces  community  communitycenters  collectives  horizontality  organizations  flexibility  accessibility  humor  riskaversion  risk  institutions  failure  risktaking  curation 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Chapter 4 of An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi
[Wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20171227051615/http://www.columbia.edu:80/itc/mealac/pritchett/00litlinks/gandhi/part3/304chapter.html ]

"This sad situation developed after my departure from South Africa, but my idea of having permanent funds for public institutions underwent a change long before this difference arose. And now after considerable experience with the many public institutions which I have managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is not good to run public institutions on permanent funds. A permanent fund carries in itself the seed of the moral fall of the institution. A public institution means an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds, of the public. When such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist. Institutions maintained on permanent funds are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. In our country we experience this at every step. Some of the so-called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts. The trustees have become the owners, and are responsible to none. I have no doubt that the ideal is for public institutions to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support has no right to exist as such. The subscriptions that an institution annually receives are a test of its popularity and the honesty of its management, and I am of opinion that every institution should submit to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remarks do not apply to the bodies which cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without permanent buildings. What I mean to say it that the current expenditure should be found from subscriptions voluntarily received from year to year."

[Related:
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/12/why-do-universities-have-endowments.html
http://ethicist.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/should-you-give-to-harvard/
http://harvardpolitics.com/hprgument-posts/investing-future/
http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/ethics_and_nonprofits ]

[More on endowments:
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/dartmouth-controversy-reflects-quandary-for-endowments/
https://ideas.repec.org/a/ebl/ecbull/eb-11-00531.html
http://www.pgdc.com/pgdc/issues-and-opportunities-endowment-fundraising
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/05/28/the-problems-with-university-endowments/
http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/endowments-new-questions-new-normal
http://www.changemag.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/January-February%202010/full-the-truth.html
http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4428&context=flr (.pdf)]
endowments  money  finance  colleges  universities  nonprofit  gandhi  institutions  power  control  democracy  management  permanent  funds  publicopinion  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  capital  wealth  organizations  permanence  impermanence  ephemeral  ephemerality  legacy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
New Statesman | Jon Cruddas's speech on radical hope: full text
"Now, I’ll begin with a story. One that dominates the philosopher Jonathan Lear’s brilliant book, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. It is about the Crow Indians. A story about what happens when the economy of a society is destroyed and a people’s way of life comes to an end. It was told by their great chief Plenty Coups, shortly before he died. He said, ‘When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not be lifted up again. After this nothing happened’.

What did he mean? That the culture that gave their life meaning and purpose died. The whole fabric of their beliefs and standards was destroyed and this loss was irreparable. What would come next? The Crow people actually survived despite this loss because their leadership re-imagined a future; it created a ‘radical hope’. It was radical because it was a future without guarantees but most important it was without despair.

In a period of rapid social and economic change it raises key questions about how we draw on a community’s memory and traditions to define the future. The book throws up many challenges for all today’s political parties.

For example, the Labour Party is the product of industrial society.

A party built on mass production over one hundred years ago:
a large stable workforce,
large productive units,
mass consumption,
and a class society.

Yet we are now in the middle of a de-industrial revolution fragmenting the communities it once sustained. A post-industrial economy is taking shape around our advanced manufacturing and the new information and communications technologies. The shift to a services economy is flattening out old, hierarchical command and control structures.
Digital technology is unseating whole industries and workforces, and production is becoming more networked and disorganised. Our class system is being reconstructed.
The disruption of technological change is greater than at any times since the industrial revolution. The institutions and solidarities workers created to defend themselves against the power of capital have disappeared or become outdated and ineffective. As such, social democracy has lost its social anchorage in the coalitions built up around the skilled working class. Once great ruling parties can appear hollowed out; in danger of shrinking into a professionalized political class.

Often in government they were not very social, nor very democratic. Top down and state driven. Compensating for the system not reforming it. A politics about structures and not about individuals. This model of social democracy built in the industrial era has come to the end of its useful life. These forces also challenge the Tories and their traditional Conservative values."



“Despite this failure of the old order, we are also living in a time of tremendous opportunity.”

“We became institutional conservatives defending the outdated.”

“We will not build the new economy with the old politics of command and control.”

“We have to tackle concentrations of power, and make sure people have the skills and the abilities to take advantage of the internet.”



"Just as in the age of steam and the age of the railways, our new digital age is radically changing society. But while rail transformed society it also created opportunities for the robber barons to monopolise and control it for their own good. We have to tackle concentrations of power, and make sure people have the skills and the abilities to take advantage of the internet. In the vanguards of the new economy there is a new productive force which is the ‘life of the mind’. There are new kinds of raw materials - the intangible assets of information, sounds, words, images, ideas – and they are produced in creative, emotional and intellectuallabour. New models of production are using consumers and their relationships in the co-inventing of new ideas, products and cultural meaning."



“To develop these opportunities throughout the population we need an education system that cultivates the full range of individual capabilities. Our present model of education rewards conformity in pursuit of a narrow, logical and mathematical form of intelligence. It fails far too many children and it reproduces the power of the already privileged. It is wasteful of our most important economic resource which is human ingenuity. We need to give craft and vocational work the same value and status as academic work, and prioritise digital inclusion to help adults who lack digital skills make the most of the internet.”

“It fails far too many children and it reproduces the power of the already privileged.”

“It is a mutual recognition that we are all dependent upon other people throughout our lives.”    

“We need one another to succeed individually.”

“People are losing confidence in the ability of our public institutions to serve the collective interest.”

[via @justinpickard https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/484349852797911040 ]
joncruddas  hope  radicalhope  change  systemschange  capitalism  socialism  economics  politics  hierarchy  horizontality  hierarchies  jonathanlear  crowindians  history  democracy  organizations  conservatism  neoliberalism  2014  inequality  creativity  innovation  education  unschooling  unlearning  deschooling  collectivism  interdependence  individuality  internet  technology  industrialization 
july 2014 by robertogreco
My wife is a lazy liar | smithdeville
"I work at a real job, and I don’t go to nearly as many “meetings” as my wife does. Many of her meetings, she says, are focused on discussing test results, new testing procedures, testing tests, test testing, tester testing, and test testing testers. Occasionally, she says, these meeting diverge into other topics such as testing evaluations. Some meetings allegedly occur during school hours when my wife should be “teaching.” These meetings are dreamed up by highly-paid, redundant administrators who have clandestine responsibilities no one can figure out. At the end of these meetings, it is determined that “teachers” at my wife’s school are not spending enough time teaching."
education  edreform  policy  meetings  busywork  testing  organizations  standardizedtesting  adminstrativebloat  waste  schools  via:lukeneff 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / tlhote: "Bureaucracy is a construction ...
"Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision." —@nntaleb

[via: http://alecresnick.com/post/88006424970/bureaucracy-is-a-construction-designed-to ]
leadership  organizations  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  responsibility  risk  nassimtaleb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Can “Leaderless Revolutions” Stay Leaderless: Preferential Attachment, Iron Laws and Networks | technosociology
"Many commentators relate the diffuse, somewhat leaderless nature of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (and now spreading elsewhere) with the prominent role social-media-enabled peer-to-peer networks played in these movements. While I remain agnostic but open to the possibility that these movements are more diffuse partially due to the media ecology, it is wrong to assume that open networks “naturally” facilitate “leaderless” or horizontal structures. On the contrary, an examination of dynamics in such networks, and many examples from history, show that such set-ups often quickly evolve into very hierarchical and ossified networks not in spite of, but because of, their initial open nature."



"I agree and have said before that this was the revolution of a networked public, and as such, not dominated by traditional structures such as political parties or trade-unions (although such organizations played a major role, especially towards the end). I have also written about how this lack of well-defined political structure might be both a weakness and a strength.

A fact little-understood but pertinent to this discussion, however, is that relatively flat networks can quickly generate hierarchical structures even without any attempt at a power grab by emergent leaders or by any organizational, coordinated action. In fact, this often occurs through a perfectly natural process, known as preferential attachment, which is very common to social and other kinds of networks."



"Disposition is not destiny. In one of my favorite books as a teenager, The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Leguin imagines a utopian colony under harsh conditions and describes their attempts to guard against the rise of such a ossified leadership through multiple mechanisms: rotation of jobs, refusal of titles, attempts to use a language that is based on sharing and utility rather than possession and others. The novel does not resolve if it is all futile but certainly conveys the yearning for a truly egalitarian society.

If the nascent revolutionaries in Egypt are successful in finding ways in which a movement can leverage social media to remain broad-based, diffused and participatory, they will truly help launch a new era beyond their already remarkable achievements. Such a possibility, however, requires a clear understanding of how networks operate and an explicit aversion to naïve or hopeful assumptions about how structures which allow for horizontal congregation will necessarily facilitate a future that is non-hierarchical, horizontal and participatory. Just like the Egyptian revolution was facilitated by digital media but succeeded through the bravery, sacrifice, intelligence and persistence of its people, ensuring a participatory future can only come through hard work as well as the diligent application of thoughtful principles to these new tools and beyond."
egypt  anarchism  horizontality  hierarchy  hierarchies  socialnetworks  2011  groupdynamics  sociology  zeyneptufekci  organizations  tunisia  arabspring 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Avoid these three traps and become a more decisive leader - Quartz
[via: http://randsinrepose.com/links/2014/05/28/most-people-tend-to-move-toward-the-status-quo/ ]

"I recently oversaw a study designed to clarify the relationship between pivotal decisions and leadership. Based on our nationwide survey of 500 college-educated adults in professional careers, representative of 16% of adults in the United States, we uncovered four distinct decision-making styles, all defined by the level of accountability and ingenuity employed.

1. A leader continually works on improving how things are done in large and small ways, seeking different perspectives, and bringing people along a purposeful mission.

2. A manager focuses on the job at hand without greater vision or ingenuity.

3. A wanderer offers exciting ideas but can’t make things happen.

4. A clock puncher stays in a comfort zone and resists change.
Particularly when making decisions at pivot points—which by definition call for changing the status quo—you need to avoid the trap of risk avoidance and make decisions like a leader. However, our study found that, over time, most people tend to move toward the status quo–with increasingly unsuccessful results.

People slip in and out of the four decision-making modes, but tend to default to one of them. For those who find themselves not making pivotal decisions consistently as a leader, it is likely that they have landed unwittingly in one of three common traps.

Complacency

The first trap I uncovered is complacency—it’s simply easier not to rock the boat. New ideas take work and face too many skeptics. Insular thinking sets in, making ideas more safe than imaginative and solutions more recycled than on target. But a key finding in our study is that people who focus only on the day-to-day issues—even with diligence and excellence—don’t get the successful outcomes leaders get. To stand out as a leader, make appointments with yourself—literally, block out time on your calendar—to brainstorm on a regular basis about forward-looking needs of your team and business.

Busy-ness

Another trap that almost everyone falls into on occasion is busy-ness. Being so busy getting through a day can leave no time for matters that need careful thought. Daily interactions at the office become primarily transactional, such as project and information updates. Ideation and problem solving become work done solely in scheduled meetings and the annual planning process. There’s no other time to discuss new perspectives and ideas with colleagues and customers. It becomes a way of life and years pass since you had an idea that truly excited you. Our study found that leaders make the time to talk with a variety of people to explore a number of options and to gain support for ideas. So, I often advise people to make the time to have lunch once a week with someone other than daily contacts to have conversations that explore new ideas and options.

Playing it safe

A third common decision-making trap is having more concern for keeping your job than for doing your job. The job of meeting expectations can turn into managing by a checklist. While it’s certainly important to deliver according to agreed upon goals and expectations, the job of the leader also includes inspiring others through example and outlook. People want to be part of something that engages the passion and optimism of their leaders. They want their leader to care about the work more than they care about profits, and to care about what the team thinks. Our study found that leaders worked hard to build enthusiasm and to make sure that everyone affected by a major decision understood his or her thinking.

Overall, the most important differentiator of leader decision-making is reaching out to people, listening to them, understanding the problems people struggle with in their jobs, and building awareness and support for decisions. Often, people lend support simply because they feel treated with respect and appreciation when they were asked to give their perspective. Accountability for rallying support is so important that, if you do nothing else differently, do this as a regular part of your job and you’ll likely see more consistently successful outcomes.

Coming up short on ingenuity, the other key measure of leadership decision making, can also be a blind spot for many people. Often, they fail to see the extent to which they stay within the comfort zone of the status quo. They don’t know what they don’t know. From the vantage point of their comfort zone, new ideas appear as more work and disruptions than they are worth.

The challenge is to recognize these warning signs in your approach to decisions. It’s difficult to see yourself as others see you. It’s easy to trade off effectiveness for efficiency just to get through a day, especially when technology and globalization enable constant connectivity. This makes it more important than ever to look truthfully at the trade-offs we’ve made and which of them we want to reclaim, where we are, where we want to go, and take action on closing the gap."
juliatangpeters  leadership  management  administration  change  statusquo  busyness  complacency  institutions  organizations  decisionmaking  perspective  ingenuity  cv  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Projects | Common Practice
[I hope there is video of this.]

"Keynote: “In Praise of Small”

Art historian David Joselit will ask whether there is a particular ethos possessed by small-scale organizations and, if so, how does it operate within the greater field? By reframing small-scale organizations as propositions unto themselves, Joselit will discuss how publics emerge from these spaces; the relationship between scale and radicalism; the importance of documentation; and the ability to speculate, politicize information, and re-signify art beyond its profit-making potential. Joselit will be introduced by members of Common Practice New York and Paul O’Neill, director of the graduate program at CCS Bard."
small  art  davidjoselit  organizations  scale  radicalism  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
How to Minimize Politics in Your Company - Ben's Blog
[via: http://www.vox.com/2014/5/15/5719916/why-salaries-shouldnt-be-secret ]

"As I developed as a CEO, I found three key techniques to be extremely useful in minimizing politics.

1. Hire people with the right kind of ambition—The cases that I described above might involve people who are ambitious, but not necessarily inherently political. All cases are not like this. The surest way to turn your company into the political equivalent of the US Senate is to hire people with the wrong kind of ambition. As defined by Andy Grove, the right kind of ambition is ambition for the company’s success with the executive’s own success only coming as a by-product of the company’s victory. The wrong kind of ambition is ambition for the executive’s personal success regardless of the company’s outcome.

2. Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate—Certain activities attract political behavior. These activities include:

• Performance evaluation and compensation
• Organizational design and territory
• Promotions

Let’s examine each case and how you might build and execute a process that insulates the company from bad behavior and politically motivated outcomes.

Performance and compensation—Often companies defer putting performance management and compensation processes in place. This doesn’t mean that they don’t evaluate employees or give pay raises; it just means they do so in an ad hoc manner that’s highly vulnerable to political machinations. By conducting well-structured, regular performance and compensation reviews, you will ensure that pay and stock increases are as fair as possible. This is especially important for executive compensation as doing so will also serve to minimize politics. In the example above, the CEO should have had an airtight performance and compensation policy and simply told the executive that his compensation would be evaluated with everyone else’s. Ideally, the executive compensation process should involve the board of directors. This will a) help ensure good governance and b) make exceptions even more difficult.

Organizational design and territory—If you manage ambitious people, from time to time, they will want to expand their scope of responsibility. In the example above, the CFO wanted to become the COO. In other situations, the head of marketing might want to run sales and marketing or the head of engineering may want to run engineering and product management. When someone raises an issue like this with you, you must be very careful about what you say, because everything that you say can be turned into political cannon fodder. Generally, it’s best to say nothing at all. At most, you might ask “why?”, but if you do so be sure not to react to the reasons. If you indicate what you are thinking, that information will leak, rumors will spread and you plant the seeds for all kinds of unproductive discussions. You should evaluate your organizational design on a regular basis and gather the information that you need to decide without tipping people to what you plan to do. Once you decide, you should immediately execute the re-org: don’t leave time for leaks and lobbying.

Promotions—Every time your company gives someone a promotion, everyone else at that person’s level evaluates the promotion and judges whether merit or political favors yielded the promotion. If the latter, then the other employees generally react in one of three ways:

a. They sulk and feel undervalued

b. They outwardly disagree, campaign against the person, and undermine them in their new position

c. They attempt to copy the political behavior that generated the unwarranted promotion

Clearly, you don’t want any of these behaviors in your company. Therefore, you must have a formal, visible, defensible promotion process that governs every employee promotion. Often this process must be different for people on your own staff (the general process may involve various managers who are familiar with the employee’s work, the executive process should include the board of directors). The purpose of the process is twofold. First, it will give the organization confidence that the company at least attempted to base the promotion on merit and second, the result of the process will be the information necessary for your team to explain the promotion decisions that you made.

3. Be careful with “he said, she said”—Once your organization grows to a significant size, members of your team will, from time to time, complain about each other. Sometimes this criticism will be extremely aggressive. Be very careful about how you listen and the message that it sends. Simply by hearing them out without defending the employee in question, you will send the message that you agree. If people in the company think that you agree that one of your executives is less than stellar, that information will spread quickly and without qualification. As a result, people will stop listening to the executive in question and they will soon become ineffective.

There are two distinct types of complaints that you will receive:

a. Complaints about an executive’s behavior

b. Complaints about an executive’s competency or performance

Generally, the best way to handle complaints of type 1 is to get the complaining executive and the targeted executive in the room together and have them explain themselves. Usually, simply having this meeting will resolve the conflict and correct the behavior (if it was actually broken). Do not attempt to address behavioral issues without both executives in the room. Doing so will invite manipulation and politics.

Complaints of type 2 are both more rare and more complex. If one of your executives summons the courage to complain about the competency of one of their peers, then there is a good chance that either the complainer or the targeted executive has a major problem. If you receive a type 2 complaint, you will generally have one of two reactions: a) they will be telling you something that you already know or b) they’ll be telling you shocking news.

If they are telling you something that you already know, then the big news is that you have let the situation go too far. Whatever your reasons for attempting to rehabilitate the wayward executive, you have taken too long and now your organization has turned on the executive in question. You must resolve the situation quickly. Almost always, this means firing the executive. While I’ve seen executives improve their performance and skill sets, I’ve never seen one lose the support of the organization then regain it.

On the other hand, if the complaint is new news, then you must immediately stop the conversation and make clear to the complaining executive that you in no way agree with their assessment. You do not want to cripple the other executive before you re-evaluate their performance. You do not want the complaint to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you’ve shut down the conversation, you must quickly re-assess the employee in question. If you find that they are doing an excellent job, then you must figure out the complaining executive’s motivations and resolve them. Do not let an accusation of this magnitude fester. If you find that the employee is doing a poor job, there will be time to go back and get the complaining employee’s input, but you should be on a track to remove the poor performer at that point."
benhorowitz  2010  management  leadership  officepolitics  politics  work  workplace  business  behavior  psychology  groupdynamics  relationships  administration  organizations  promotions  conflict 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Bits or pieces?: Organisational Add Ons
"Most organisations seem to be collating a never ending list of new strategies (cloud, social media, big data, insight from data, agile, digital first etc) and a never ending list of new roles and departments (VP cloud, VP social media, Chief Insight Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Digital Officer etc).

The reason why we have an abundance of these micro strategies is mainly due to companies copying each other i.e. if '67% of other companies do X then we need to do X'. This copying occurs because companies generally exhibit poor situational awareness and are effectively blind to their environment. In such circumstances then copying others is all you can do in the hope that backward causality - if A did B and A is successful then if I do B, I too will be successful - works.

The reason why we have this abundance of new roles and departments is because organisations are not designed to change and hence we have to bolt on new structures."
2014  organizations  change  changetheory  systems  systemsthinking  somethingaboutschools  facelifts  glosscoats  simonwardley 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours
"As we've been researching what design teams need to do to create great user experiences, we've stumbled across an interesting finding. It's the closest thing we've found to a silver bullet when it comes to reliably improving the designs teams produce. This solution is so simple that we didn't believe it at first. After all, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?

To make sure, we've spent the last few years working directly with teams, showing them what we found and helping them do it themselves. By golly, it actually worked. We were stunned.

The solution? Exposure hours. The number of hours each team member is exposed directly to real users interacting with the team's designs or the team's competitor's designs. There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-sixty-we-have-always-been-at-war-our-independence-day-spimes-duh ]
design  research  usability  ux  observation  understanding  empathy  2010  learning  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  attention  exposure  exposurehours  organizations  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Sixty: We Have Always Been At War; Our Independence Day; Spimes, Duh
"Last episode I talked about the Chief Empathy Officer, and in case I wasn't clear, I want to make it abundantly so this time: I think having a chief empathy officer is a stupid idea, exactly the kind of tactic that makes it look like you're jumping on a bandwagon and fixing something without fixing anything at all. It's almost as bad as having a hived-off UX team and exactly the kind of thing where, as Matt Locke points out, a general good practice in business is promoted up to the C-level suite so that you don't have to do deal with it anymore.

Let me put it clearly: no one person in an organisation should have sole responsibility for "empathy", especially in a manner that's going to make it easy for detractors to make fun of it. Instead, customer-centricism is something that needs to be distributed throughout, from the bottom-up as well as top-down

Leisa Reichelt tweeted at me in response to that episode the concept of 'exposure hours'[1], which is such a blindingly simple idea that you're kind of surprised (and then when you think about, it understand why) more companies or organisations don't use it. It's just this: the more time your designers or product owners spend with end-users, the better designed those products or services tend to be: "There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces." And this isn't just for design personnel - as soon as non-design personnel were included in the contact hours, the entire group would fall together. This is as much an argument for audience/customer contact across each functional unit or team across an organisation.

An aside: there's a wonderful tv series (it's true! Such things exist!) called Back To The Floor[2] which started in the UK in which, for entertainment purposes (and the occasional tear-jerker), C-level executives are forced to take entry level jobs in their organisations and are bluntly confronted with the humanity of their employees. Because, you know, living in a bubble.

At this point my brain wanders off and looks at the anti-pattern. Capitalism is all too often thought of as being combative and the American strand in particular borrows heavily from sports metaphors (crushing it, home run, left field, sprint). It's all anyone can do to try and impress that often capitalism doesn't necessarily have to be a zero-sum game, and that type of thinking feels like it's at odds with a customer-centric or empathy-driven organisation.

The anti-pattern, of course, is dehumanising your enemies so you can make it easier to kill them. Losing shopkeepers with face-to-face interaction dehumanises customers. Interchangeable call-center workers dehumanise customers. Reducing a customer to a statistic and traffic-light feedback mechanisms. In essence, putting up barriers and abstracting away difficult-to-quantise or measure or digitise measures that seek to make the customer experience more predictable and scaleable.

In some ways, you can get at this empathy intuitively and by having strong direction - if you're lucky. And by lucky, I mean *really* lucky - you're the kind of person who's a one in a million Steve Jobs type, and remember even *he* got it wrong with things like the hocky puck mouse and, well, iTunes, where the strategy was right and the initial user experience (plug in a first gen iPod, FireWire your songs over) was great but then degraded over time with lack of focus. And Jobs, well, Jobs was just making sure that he understood *himself* really well and appeared to be pretty true to that and wouldn't stand for any shit. So at least you get clarity of vision for products like iPhone or iPad that way.

But for everyone else, and for everyone else, chances are blindingly highly likely that you're not Steve Jobs, in which case research to understand the audience and the user need is absolutely critical. So the question is: why do hardly any organisations do this?

It's interesting because for engineers and entrepreneuers the first product is often the "scratch your own itch", which makes sense, because you understand your own itch and you know exactly where it's itching and what you might need to un-itch yourself. But when that product or service starts to grow outside of that market or that population, then having the ability to understand the people you're interacting with becomes super important, I think.

There are ways to mitigate needing to have a super-developed corporate sense of empathy, though. You can use network effects to tie people in social applications, you can use local monopolies like in fixed-line telecommunications, and plain-old regulation of competitors and limited service in air travel. But the flip side of Moore's Law is that communication and computation has gotten ever cheaper, so all of these organisations got "social", which the consultants remind us is all about having "conversations". And the thing about having conversations with an organisation that lacks empathy, or lacks the ability to act upon empathy, is that over time, they end up feeling like a sociopath.

For those of you who have been following along at home, the protracted amount of thinking in this area may or may not have something to do with one of my side projects.

[1] http://www.uie.com/articles/user_exposure_hours/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Floor_(UK_TV_series) "
danhon  empathy  titles  culture  ux  organizations  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  knowing  leisareichelt  exposurehours  exposure  attention  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail
"The immediate motivation for undertaking this work was provided by the bizarre experience of a colleague of the author (let us call him Jones), a medical scientist specializing in the study of mental retardation. This field, until recently, was a very unfashionable one, and Jones considered himself fortunate to be employed as Research Associate at a small State Home for retarded children. In the humble, even despised, position he was too low on the Civil Service scale to merit the attention of administrators, and he was therefore left alone to tinker with ideas in his chosen field. He was happily pursuing his own research interests when, following presidential interest and national publicity, mental retardation suddenly became a fashionable subject. Jones received an urgent invitation to join an ambitious federally funded project for a systematic attack upon the "problem"[*] of mental retardation.

[Footnote. See The "Problem" Problem, Chapter XI.]

Thinking that this new job, with its ample funds and facilities, would advance both his research efforts and his career, Jones joined. Within three months his own research had come to a halt, and within a year he was completely unable to speak or think intelligently in the field of mental retardation. He had, in fact, become retarded relative to his previous condition.

Looking about him to discover, if possible, what had happened, Jones found that a dozen other skilled professionals who made up the staff of the project had experienced the same catastrophe. That ambitious project, designed to advance solutions to the "problem," had, in fact, taken most of the available workers in the field and neutralized them.

What had gone wrong? Jones, knowing of the author's interest in systems operation, turned to him for advice, and the two of us, jointly, tried to analyze the problem. We first reviewed Parkinson's classic essay on Institutional Paralysis,[*] hoping to find enlightenment there. Was the disease a fulminating case of Injelititis?[*] Obviously not. The professional staff of the Institute were competent, dedicated, and hardworking. Furthermore, the administrators were experienced, energetic, and extremely logical in their approach to problems. The Institute was failing in spite of the best efforts of every one of its members."
johngall  1975  systemsthinking  systems  problemsolving  bureaucracy  institutions  via:caseygollan  organizations  failure  systemicfailure  purpose  paralysis 
march 2014 by robertogreco
From Superman to the Avengers: Rethinking Bruce Mau Design | UX Magazine
"Nurture Culture

Imagine a newspaper filled with a hilarious collection of things staff said throughout the year, off-color messages scribbled on post-it notes, and a two-page photo spread of "twins" (a.k.a. staff who start dressing similarly after working together for a while). That's the gist of the annual BMD Haiku book that is given to everyone on staff.

What I love about this artifact is that it's about culture, and culture only. It’s not about profit margins or client work, it simply and powerfully creates a snapshot of what it was like to work together for a year. So often as we race toward deadlines and profit goals, we forget that we are people. It's incredibly important to nurture our relationships, play with one another, and connect as human beings … because those bonds are what get us through the rough spots in projects.

So, what are you doing as a team or organization to celebrate, laugh, and nurture your culture? Do you have an explicit way to reflect upon the quirky uniqueness of your group? Are you making time to socialize and get to know each other?

There are a million ways to create stronger connections. For example, if you've had a particularly tough week at Cooper, you earn temporary ownership of a stuffed fish and a chance to make light of your angst with everyone.

I know teams that have "Grilled Cheese Fridays," go jogging together at noon, and have bad idea contests. The most important thing is that you instigate ongoing practices to keep culture alive.

“Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge.”—Bruce Mau

In closing, there are many ways BMD could have addressed the departure of their founder. They chose to embrace that change and become a new kind of organization, driven by a group of superheroes. That decision impacted how they perceive themselves, create, and interact with clients. So far, it seems to be working. And no matter how it turns out, you have to give them credit for owning change, rather than letting it own them.

As Alan Cohen said, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new, but there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change, there is power.”

Sometimes, change is a catalyst for organizations. Sometimes, when leaders retire, those who remain build from the legacy and blossom."
teams  culture  bmd  brucemaudesign  organizations  design  2014  brucemau  play  playfulness  tcsnmy  legacy  change  classideas  projectideas  writing  newspaperclub 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Myth of the Non-Technical Startup Employee, by Zoelle Egner | Model View Culture
"The indignities unwittingly foisted upon the early operations employee are many and varied."

As the first non-technical hire at a startup, you wear many hats.

You answer support tickets, write newsletters, even order lunch: whatever needs to get done. When you’re lucky - and I was - that means days spent untangling complex problems and creating processes to keep the chaos at bay.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the tech industry at large, it can also mean a constant battle to justify your intelligence, your value, and your very existence. It can mean struggling against gendered expectations about your work product and complete ignorance of what your role entails. Worse, as the defacto keeper of the sacred Company Culture™, you run the risk of enabling and reinforcing a system of amenities and perks which aren’t actually meant for you.

Though the indignities unwittingly foisted upon the early operations employee are many and varied, at their core, most can be traced back to three core misconceptions that pervade the industry at large.

1. You only take a job in business operations if you aren’t smart enough to be an engineer (or designer, or product manager, or…)



2. If your role isn’t technical, you don’t actually understand the product.



3. The ops person is here to be your mommy.



Operations is a necessary evil, and it doesn’t really matter

That means the people who do it don’t really matter, either.

Choosing to work at an early-stage startup can mean choosing to sacrifice a lot: weekends, the opportunity to see friends for weeks on end, even basic knowledge of what’s going on in the outside world. Obviously, it’s also rewarding enough that we continue to make those sacrifices time and time again. Yet the myths we hold so dear — the noble engineer, sleeping under his desk to get the product out on time; the company that cares for its employees’ every need — exclude and marginalize an entire class of people whose contributions to these startups make their success possible. Perhaps that just comes with the territory of working in an operational role, but it also sends a clear message: this industry is supposedly changing the world, but only the contributions of a select few are worthy of celebration. The rest, well — someone had to keep the snacks filled.

But of course it’s not that simple. If you don’t file your taxes or pay vendors on time or hire the right people at the right speed or handle any of the other, myriad issues that operations folks handle each day, it doesn’t matter how great your product is: you’re going to run into serious problems. Technical infrastructure isn’t the only part of a startup that needs to scale seamlessly. This, ultimately, is why these myths about business operations are so painful and damaging, both to the professionals who suffer from them and the businesses that perpetuate them. You can have a great product and still fail because your business was broken. But it shouldn’t happen that way, and it doesn’t have to.

Yes, it means taking the time as a founder to understand what operations means, and finding the right person to help make it happen, regardless of their gender. It means trusting that whomever you hire will be just as invested in the success of the company and just as valuable as people with more widely understood responsibilities. But the result is worth it. Particularly when it comes to early stage startups, a good operations person who is engaged as a true partner in building the business can lengthen your runway and give you the chance you need to be successful and sustainable. That’s a prospect worth fighting for."
zoelleegner  softskills  management  operations  startups  2014  gender  organizations  work  labor  culture  administration  technology  emotionallabor  shrequest1 
march 2014 by robertogreco
managers are awesome / managers are cool when they’re part of your team (tecznotes)
"Apropos the Julie Ann Horvath Github shitshow, I’ve been thinking this weekend about management, generally.

I don’t know details about the particular Github situation so I won’t say much about it, but I was present for Tom Preston-Werner’s 2013 OSCON talk about Github. After a strong core message about open source licenses, liability, and freedom (tl;dr: avoid the WTFPL), Tom talked a bit about Github’s management model.
Management is about subjugation; it’s about control.

At Github, Tom described a setup where the power structure of the company is defined by the social structures of the employees. He showed a network hairball to illustrate his point, said that Github employees can work on what they feel like, subject to the strategic direction set for the company. There are no managers.

This bothered me a bit when I heard it last summer, and it’s gotten increasingly more uncomfortable since. I’ve been paraphrasing this part of the talk as “management is a form of workplace violence,” and the still-evolving story of Julie Ann Horvath suggests that the removal of one form of workplace violence has resulted in the reintroduction of another, much worse form. In my first post-college job, I was blessed with an awesome manager who described his work as “firefighter up and cheerleader down,” an idea I’ve tried to live by as I’ve moved into positions of authority myself. The idea of having no managers, echoed in other companies like Valve Software, suggests the presence of major cultural problems at a company like Github. As Shanley Kane wrote in What Your Culture Really Says, “we don’t have an explicit power structure, which makes it easier for the unspoken power dynamics in the company to play out without investigation or criticism.” Managers might be difficult, hostile, or useless, but because they are parts of an explicit power structure they can be evaluted explicitly. For people on the wrong side of a power dynamic, engaging with explicit structure is often the only means possible to fix a problem.

Implicit power can be a liability as well as a strength. In the popular imagination, implicit power elites close sweetheart deals in smoke-filled rooms. In reality, the need for implicit power to stay in the shadows can cripple it in the face of an outside context problem. Aaron Bady wrote of Julian Assange and Wikileaks that “while an organization structured by direct and open lines of communication will be much more vulnerable to outside penetration, the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside gaze), the less able it will be to “think” as a system, to communicate with itself. The more conspiratorial it becomes, in a certain sense, the less effective it will be as a conspiracy.”

Going back to the social diagram, this lack of ability to communicate internally seems to be an eventual property of purely bottoms-up social structures. Github has been enormously successful on the strength of a single core strategy: the creation of a delightful, easy-to-use web UI on top of a work-sharing system designed for distributed use. I’ve been a user since 2009, and my belief is that the product has consistently improved, but not meaningfully changed. Github’s central, most powerful innovation is the Pull Request. Github has annexed adjoining territory, but has not yet had to respond to a threat that may force it to abandon territory or change approach entirely.

Without a structured means of communication, the company is left with the vague notion that employees can do what they feel like, as long as it’s compliant with the company’s strategic direction. Who sets that direction, and how might it be possible to change it? There’s your implicit power and first point of weakness.

This is incidentally what’s so fascinating about the government technology position I’m in at Code for America. I believe that we’re in the midst of a shift in power from abusive tech vendor relationships to something driven by a city’s own digital capabilities. The amazing thing about GOV.UK is that a government has decided it has the know-how to hire its own team of designers and developers, and exercised its authority. That it’s a cost-saving measure is beside the point. It’s the change I want to see in the world: for governments large and small to stop copy-pasting RFP line items and cargo-culting tech trends (including the OMFG Ur On Github trend) and start thinking for themselves about their relationship with digital communication."
michalmigurski  2014  julieannhovarth  github  horizontality  hierarchy  hierarchies  power  julianassange  wikileaks  valve  culture  business  organizations  management  legibility  illegibility  communication  gov.uk  codeforamerica  subjugation  abuse  shanley  teams  administration  leadership 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Structurelessness (Jo Freeman)
[Already bookmarked another version of this: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d3995eef07ce . Thanks to Max for resurfacing today.]

"Unstructured groups may be very effective in getting women to talk about their lives; they aren’t very good for getting things done. It is when people get tired of “just talking” and want to do something more that the groups flounder, unless they change the nature of their operation. Occasionally, the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that an unstructured group “works.” That is, the group has fortuitously developed precisely the kind of structure best suited for engaging in a particular project.

While working in this kind of group is a very heady experience, it is also rare and very hard to replicate. There are almost inevitably four conditions found in such a group:

1) It is task oriented. Its function is very narrow and very specific, like putting on a conference or putting out a newspaper. It is the task that basically structures the group. The task determines what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. It provides a guide by which people can judge their actions and make plans for future activity.

2) It is relatively small and homogeneous. Homogeneity is necessary to ensure that participants have a “common language” or interaction. People from widely different backgrounds may provide richness to a consciousness-raising group where each can learn from the others’ experience, but too great a diversity among members of a task-oriented group means only that they continually misunderstand each other. Such diverse people interpret words and actions differently. They have different expectations about each other’s behavior and judge the results according to different criteria. If everyone knows everyone else well enough to understand the nuances, these can be accommodated. Usually, they only lead to confusion and endless hours spent straightening out conflicts no one ever thought would arise.

3) There is a high degree of communication. Information must be passed on to everyone, opinions checked, work divided up, and participation assured in the relevant decisions. This is only possible if the group is small and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the task. Needless to say, the number of interactions necessary to involve everybody increases geometrically with the number of participants. This inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from some of the decisions. Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15, but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can be passed around easily.

4) There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable. To a certain extent, people become interchangeable parts."



"Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself — only its excess use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.

2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.

3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.

4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.

7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

When these principles are applied, they ensure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large, The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it."
feminism  groups  groupdynamics  power  control  social  politics  jofreeman  anarchy  anarchism  consensus  democracy  delegation  responsibility  elitism  politicalimpotence  decisionmaking  authority  leadership  administration  organizations  structure  structurelessness 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"The gender issue is really a postwar issue. Women, wherever they were, what side or what in the war situation, stepped into the places that men had left. And they were competent, and they could do it. It was only after the war, when the men came back, that they needed the mystique—that she’s a girl, and so oughtn’t [to be] there, this is a man’s job. The gender issue, in practical terms—either who [could be] in school or who thought they could do which job, which science, which math—is a postwar issue anywhere in the world.

And it’s the issue of a large number of well-organized men, who often got their training in the army during the war, returning and needing both work and justification for their organized maleness in a very hierarchical structure. These guys came out of the military, and brought skills, but mostly brought demands.

There were women who had coped—often very well in very technical [positions]—but what was needed now was a distinction between those who came out of a culture of order, discipline, and minimal consideration of an individual’s contribution. So you had to get the women out of the workplace. And that’s when that question—they can’t do math, or they are frightened of machines—that’s where all that crap comes from. But it’s there, and it took until the late ’50s when women said: “Ah ah! What’s going on here?”

It’s the collectivity—with some consciousness-raising, you see—that actually, the personal is political. It’s not that our skirts are too short or too long; it’s just that we are being pushed around and maybe we have to put a stop to it collectively. But that gender-based look at knowledge and competency is postwar.

So my school experience: It was ‘so what?’ "



"There’s no question that somebody who was in the position I was when my son was born, and said to somebody, ‘I’m pregnant.’ There’s legislation now; they have to keep your job; they have to give you that much maternity leave; you have a medical insurance system that picks up some of those expenses; and no employer can say no. That’s an enormous change.

The salary thing is still a question where one may have to struggle, but it is not that a priori a woman gets paid less for work of equal value. And there are laws that one can change. Not that people who need to challenge have the power to do so, but that exists. I mean if you see the number of women—school principals and university presidents—that is the change.

I constantly emphasize that the issue is not essentially gender. The issue is patriarchy. I must say that I myself have been surprised at the rapid rise of lady patriarchs. And of course there are lady patriarchs. I was surprised how easily young women who have all options open for patriarchy become as much the patriarch in a hierarchical structure as any man does; and conversely, how many men—how many men, not that many—have found a collaborative structure convenient and don’t pull rank. 

The developments flow from there. The main development is legislation—and that hand-waving isn’t good enough."



"[Q] And when you say “lady patriarchs,” what do you mean?

I mean women who behave as if they are generals or bishops. It makes no difference in many ways if it’s a woman or a man. In particular positions, a woman can be as inconsiderate a lady patriarch as a male patriarch would have been. So the issue is the hierarchical structuring; the issue is patriarchy.

[Q] You were also involved in strontium testing. Did that float out of your social work in the ’60s, your work as a citizen?

What you are referring to is the sense that one is a citizen first and happen to be a professional in one area or another, but you don’t stop being a citizen because you are a highway engineer or a professor of metallurgy, but you also don’t leave all your scientific knowledge when you are a resident in the district that is suddenly heavily influence by pollution from another plant; or, globally, from fallout or chemical pollution.

When you object to things like that, you bring the skills that you have to have professionally to it, as do all the others who may provide citizen input or position. The whole fabric of the democratic process comes from citizens who are competent in various ways, and my competency happens to be science. I have a certain skill in teaching to make it clear to people without using jargon what certain inevitable things, such as nuclear fallout or river pollution, mean, and that the half-life of uranium doesn’t change when you change governments. Somebody has to say that at the right place in the right language, and I’ve always taken these opportunities and, like others, contributed with the best I had.

So I’ve very much been a part of women’s peace organizations and very much meet in the most active form of pacifism—the prevention of situations that lead to war. So the pacifism, elective pacifism, are all the political and social measures against injustices that in the end drive hatred and violence.

[Q] Once you were at the University of Toronto, and got into archeometry and teaching, I suppose that followed the reforms in Canada. Did you see the university change over your time there, and just generally what was it like to be a female professor of engineering during the ’70s and ’80s?

Well… pretty lonely. You know the real difficulty is to protect and advance your women students, and to see that they are in a hassle-free learning environment. When I came to the university, I’d been around long enough to know that I wasn’t one of the gang, and I never would be. I didn’t have a desire to be one of the boys.

But the great wish—to give my women students a hassle-free, happy learning environment—that’s what’s difficult. The culture of engineering is not a culture of acceptance and understanding of anything that is female and—at the same time—equal. So that’s… that’s a real job. It was a long and hard [work] in this, and it’s by no means yet all done."

[See also Annes post about Ursula Franklin: http://designculturelab.org/2012/07/17/from-the-plsj-archives-an-extraordinary-mind/ ]
ursulafranklin  robinsonmeyer  2014  interviews  feminism  partiarchy  gender  hierarchy  hierarchies  law  legal  women  science  structures  management  organizations  history  canada  highered  highereducation  labor  regulation  standards  quakers  pacifism  peace  equality  quaker 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Nine: Everything In Silos, Forever and Ever, Amen
"Just Good Enough is bullshit. Just Good Enough means that a company doesn't have to produce a useable site that provides easily findable manuals or reference for its product, because Google will index that content eventually. Just Good Enough means I can just about use your site on my phone. Just Good Enough means that the timekeeping software that everyone in the building uses (and has to use - otherwise the entire business screeches to a halt) is only Just Not Irritating Enough to have to deal with. Just Good Enough means that you can whip up a Word document that you can save and then email to me for comment and I can open it up where it's saved in my Temporary Outlook Files and then save it as Your Document - Dan Comments.doc in my Temporary Outlook Files and then email it back to you, where you'll revise it and then send it to a project manager who will then rename it Your Document - Dan Comments - Final Feb 4 2014.doc and then email it back to me for more comments. Or where Google Docs is Just Good Enough to use single sign on so that in theory we can all use it together, but that its text formatting doesn't quite work and not everyone uses it.

It's bullshit. Just Good Enough should be offensive. Just Good Enough is the digital/software equivalent of a bridge that doesn't quite kill anyone most of the time, instead of one that actually does the fucking job. "

[…]

"This is what the threat of the consumerisation of IT is, then, to entrenched divisions and groups. It means that five years ago, the apocryphal story of someone at the BBC being quoted however many tens of thousands of pounds for a Rails server from outsourced IT deciding to, bluntly, fuck it and just stick an AWS instance on their card and expense it was the inevitable sharp end of the wedge: digital, devolved from some sort of priesthood that existed to serve itself, and instead unlocking its potential to the people who have problems that need solving now, and don't particularly care whether something is a solution or not, or has properly gone through procurement (and yes, I realize that this opens you to the possibility of a raft of 'Just Good Enoughs').

But you can't have one without the other. Leadership that reacts to teams reaching for their cards and organically using AWS or Basecamp or whatever because it's Just Good Enough and flies under the procurement radar, or reaching out to Get Stuff Done with small external groups rather than using internal resource by asking: "what's the problem here, and why are our employees choosing to react in this way rather than internally?" and fixing that internal provision of resource are the ones that are going to win. Which is, again, why GDS is building internal capability rather than external.

In a conversation with GDS's Russell Davies about this, the one comment of his that stood out was that none of this was new to those of us who've been working in digital or interactive. There was no stunning insight, no secret sauce, no magic recipe. Just that, from a leadership and organizational point of view, digital was an important concept to align around as a way of achieving their goals: and then, GDS conceived on (again, my external reckoning) with teams constructed around delivery. It was just that the will was there.

So here's the thing. (And this type of wrapping up inevitably feels like a Church of England sermon or Thought for the Day).

Siloed organisations, where digital is "over there", aren't going to succeed. At the very least, they're only going to unlock a fraction of the opportunity that's available to them. At the very worst, they'll find themselves both slowly ("oh, they've only got a few tens of thousands of users") and quickly (Blackberry, Nokia) disrupted. Runkeeper will come and eat their lunch. Netflix will become the next video network. Uber, much as I hate them for being Uber, will come along and work out that hey, digital actually can make your business of cars that move things from one place to another better for the end user. 

They're just not. 

It's just a question of how fast we get there.

My brother, when asked when video games will finally be treated as mainstream culture, used to say: "When enough people die." 

GDS is showing that we don't need people to die for digital to work. We just need leadership that wants it."

[Reference post: http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2013/04/the-unit-of-delivery.html ]
danhon  2014  gov.uk  russelldavies  services  digital  organizations  technology  edtech  bbc  basecamp  problemsolving  leadership  management  siloing  culture  it  justgoodenough 
february 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Making remote teams work
"I’ll be the first to admit that remote work is not a panacea for all that ails the modern workplace, nor is it suitable for everyone. It’s just as possible to have a dysfunctional remote team as it is to have a broken and unproductive office space.

That said, in the tech community today, remote work has some clear advantages. For the employer, it enables hiring from a more diverse set of workers. Yahoo! may be unwilling to hire an engineer who lives in Kansas City and isn’t inclined (or able) to move to Sunnyvale or New York, but another team may be more than happy to accommodate her. Remote teams also don’t incur the costs associated with expensive campuses and their roster of caterers, laundromats, buses, and gyms, making them more appealing to smaller and leaner organizations. (And, since those perks are usually designed to keep workers at the office, employees could be said to benefit from their absence.) For employees, remote work can permit a flexibility and freedom that is especially valuable to those with less-than-perfect home lives. Caring for children or elderly parents, or contending with an illness or physical or mental disability, may all be made easier with the flexibility to work when and where it best works for you.

This last point is, in some ways, the most damning criticism of Meyer’s policy at Yahoo!: a mother with a full-time nanny may find no difficulty in making it to the office every day, but most parents are not so well-supported. Of the remote workers I spoke to, a recurring theme was the ability to time-shift one’s day to meet their kids’ schedules (as were various techniques for insulating the workspace from tantrums, about which more in a moment). Remote working holds the promise of adapting work to fit our lives, rather than requiring that we twist and bend our lives to fit the space that work demands.

But only if it’s done well. Remote working is a different way of working, with different constraints and practices. It undoes decades of management policies and, given its relatively recent uptake, there’s scant information about the best way to proceed. What follows is some advice, drawn from our own experience at Editorially, with guidance from others about how to make remote teams work — and which pitfalls to look out for."



"One of the most unexpected things that I’ve learned from working remotely is that it isn’t just about accommodating different lifestyles or taking advantage of technology’s ability to compress long distances. Remote working encourages habits of communication and collaboration that can make a team objectively better: redundant communication and a naturally occurring record of conversation enable team members to better understand each other and work productively towards common ends. At the same time, an emphasis on written communication enforces clear thinking, while geography and disparate time zones foster space for that thinking to happen.

In that way, remote teams are more than just a more humane way of working: they are simply a better way to work."

[See also: http://blog.timoni.org/post/75073922089/and-importantly-the-team-chat-room-tool-needs ]
mandybrown  collaboration  tools  communication  2014  stet  technology  remote  work  howwework  editorially  accessibility  inclusivity  chat  video  management  organization  organizations  administration  inclusion  inlcusivity 
january 2014 by robertogreco
indy johar founder of HUB westminster on co-working spaces
"designboom visited architect indy johar in london to learn more about his extensive study into socially driven sustainable urban organization. ‘the intersections of culture and technology have contributed to a mindset of ‘own less, use more‘, he explains, ‘and the concept of ‘ecosystems’ fits the contemporary landscape of work much better than the centralized model of decades past’.

‘we’re effectively going to see the corporate model become the uncorporate model,’ johar predicts, with large companies breaking down into separate but interwoven branches for their physical infrastructure, investment, and learning platforms. as a result, there is a pressing need to open up the office, moving away from divided departments and cubicles and towards what he describes as a ‘fluid mix’ wherein executives, startups, suppliers, and talent makers are all part of a larger ecosystem. as a result, there is a pressing need to open up the office, moving away from divided departments and cubicles and towards what he describes as a ‘fluid mix’ wherein executives, startups, suppliers, and talent makers are all part of a larger ecosystem."



"most HUBs are comprised of three types of environments: collaborative, semi-private, and private.all of them are conceptualized as blank canvases — while they provide basic furniture and necessities, the focus of the space is not on superfluous decoration but rather how people fill it and what they do with their time there. hubbers bring all kinds of personal objects and possessions to make their workspace, even in the sprawling open collaborative areas, feel uniquely theirs; and the HUBs feature creative touches inside and out, whether they’re built to resemble a giant red bus as in singapore or highlight their walls with colorful assemblages designating the HUB locations worldwide. microcosms of the work world in themselves — and thus a prevision of grander changes in society and culture — the HUBs are a perfect place to study human behaviour and watch out for the next trends in office furniture."



"the diversity of new needs means that office furniture manufacturers are also for the first time not restricted to international standards and regulations regarding the precise dimensions and production specifications of chairs and desks, permitting an expanded level of creativity and aesthetic vision. but the enduring effects of the new world of work will extend far beyond that. the design of office furniture and environments is equally shaped by changes within office culture and its increasing emphasis on collaboration and communication."

[video also here: https://vimeo.com/83300452 ]
indyjohar  coworking  2014  howwework  lcproject  openstudioproject  sharing  ownershap  hub  community  work  officespaces  offices  interiors  furniture  classroomdesign  design  architecture  organizations  officeculture  flexibility  ecosystems  place  thirdspaces  communitymanagement  uncorporate  infrastructure  platforms 
january 2014 by robertogreco
How Spotify organizes teams: Squads, Tribes, Chapters, and Guilds | Emmanuel Quartey
"It’s always interesting to learn about the internal organization of an organization.

The way a collective is structured reveals its values, and the function it is optimized for.

Two short PDFs about Spotify’s internal organization:

1. Scaling Agile at Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters, and Guilds
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1018963/Articles/SpotifyScaling.pdf

2. How Spotify Builds Products
http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1018963/Articles/HowSpotifyBuildsProducts.pdf "
spotify  organizations  mentorship  teams  tribes  leadership  management  huilds  squads  2013  henrikkniberg  andersivarsson  collaboration 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy - Quartz
"During the 4-hour meeting, Hsieh talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.



“We’re classically trained to think of ‘work’ in the traditional paradigm,” says John Bunch, who, along with Alexis Gonzales-Black, is leading the transition to Holacracy at Zappos. “One of the core principles is people taking personal accountability for their work. It’s not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role. Everybody is expected to lead and be an entrepreneur in their own roles, and Holacracy empowers them to do so.”

In its highest-functioning form, he says, the system is “politics-free, quickly evolving to define and operate the purpose of the organization, responding to market and real-world conditions in real time. It’s creating a structure in which people have flexibility to pursue what they’re passionate about.”

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees. Jason Stirman, whose roles include head of people operations and product designer at Medium, says that one of the best things about Holacracy is that it facilitates autonomy. “Ev isn’t the CEO of Medium to have another title for his Twitter bio. He wants the company to operate at the highest level possible, and he recognizes that all the power consolidated at top is great for people who are hungry but it can be a total bottleneck. There are decisions he wants to make and the rest can be absorbed in other areas of the organization.”

Still, Holacracy can feel unnatural, especially at first. Meetings are designed to rapidly process tensions. The focus is on the work, not the people. “It’s not a very human-centric model for things,” says Stirman. “For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.”

Robertson says that Holacracy is meant to address structural issues, and that leaders will respond to the human element in different ways. Medium has created mentorship circles, and Zappos has similar plans. Williams and Hsieh both “have a high capacity to see the complex systems at play in their organizations,” says Robertson. “It’s not linear or a matter of just following the logical argument; it’s seeing the cloud of interconnections and influences, beyond just cause and effect thinking.”

At the Zappos “All Hands” meeting Hsieh said that at most companies, “there’s the org chart on paper, and then the one that is exactly how the company operates for real, and then there’s the org chart that it would like to have in order to operate more efficiently. … [With Holacracy] the idea is to process tensions so that the three org charts are pretty close together.”"
zappos  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  leadership  organizations  organization  tonyhsieh  aimeegroth  2013  horizontality  holacracy  autonomy  mentorship  power  evanwilliams  medium 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Big Spaceship: Our Manual [.pdf]
"Big Spaceship is different. The weirdness makes it special, but it can be a bit jarring if you’re used to another way of working. We wrote this manual to give you everything you need to survive and thrive here, whether on day one or day one thousand.

This book won’t provide details about your 401(k), show you how to access the internal server, or help you set up your email account. It will help you begin to understand our values and the way we make decisions as a team and as a company.

Our manual belongs to you. Read it.

Share it. Change it. Keep it close when you swim into the deep water."



"WE ARE HUMANS

We act like humans, we talk like humans, and we think like humans. And we call out anyone who does the opposite."



"YOU ARE NOT HERE BY ACCIDENT

We hired you for a reason. There’s no need to prove yourself or worry about “fitting in.” You’re here. You made it. You get it. Let your work do the convincing.

WE HIRE DIFFERENTLY

Most companies operate under the premise that employees should be replaceable like parts of an assembly line. We choose our people more carefully. We bring them in if we think they’re a good fit, regardless of whether we have work for them right away.

What that means: You are more than your title. Bring yourself (rough edges and all) to
work each day, not your “producer" or “designer” costume."

GET AUTONOMOUS

You’re given an incredible amount of freedom and autonomy at Big Spaceship. That goes for everyone – from interns on up. It’s up to you to figure out how to approach a problem. No one is going to make you do it their way. We know that sounds awesome, but here’s the rub: With freedom comes a ton of ownership and responsibility.

Life is easy when someone is telling you what to do. It’s also boring, and it prevents you
from being invested in what you’re doing. Since you control your own destiny here, you’ll likely
be more emotional about your work. We believe that’s better than the alternative. Can you imagine
coming to work each day and not caring? We can’t.

WORK TOGETHER

Our flat structure calls for it by necessity. Being a leader may feel unnatural at first, but we expect everyone to step up and own part of the project. It’s kind of like playing basketball: When someone passes you the ball, you’re in charge of what to do with it next."



"YOU’RE MORE THAN YOUR TITLE

Most workplaces (intentionally or not) train people out of normal human behaviors. They want you to be predictable. They want you to be replaceable. They don’t want you to challenge the status quo.

But humans don’t work that way. Humans are unpredictable. You can’t replace one person with another the same way you swap tires on a car. Workplaces that try to control human nature become miserable fast.

People who talk about themselves in terms of their title freak us out: “I’m a producer, so I do things like this.” No. You’re a person first and a producer second. Show your true colors.

EVERYONE IS CREATIVE

But nobody is a creative. Creativity is a quality, not a title. So don’t ever say, “I’m not creative.” We will find the creativity inside you and drag it out, kicking and screaming.

We don’t put our energy into questions like, “Whose name goes on the award entry?” Instead, we ask questions like, “Is this project right for us?” and “How can we do something unique and innovative that works for the business1?”

NOBODY’S GONNA HOLD YOUR HAND

This is a busy place, and you’ll often be on your own to figure things out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t rely on others to hold your hand.

You might be tempted to say something such as, “It would be nice if someone would organize the [server, kitchen, furniture].” At Big Spaceship, you are that someone. If you want to update, change, or fix something, go for it. Seriously. Every awesome thing you see is like that because someone like you decided to do it.

HUMAN TRUTHS

truth #1: Humans are not perfect.
Don’t be afraid to fail. And when you do, you might as well fail spectacularly. This is how we grow and learn.

truth #2: Humans have voices.
Yours is as valuable as anyone else’s. Use it. Singing out loud is encouraged and it happens often.

truth #3: Humans are unique.
Do you love Norwegian death metal? Do you prefer your desk covered with sunflowers? There’s no need to hide it. Be yourself. That’s how you’ll fit in here.



HUMANS ARE NOT “RESOURCES”

Human resources. What an awful phrase. We don’t have an HR department. New hires are
interviewed by the people who will actually be working with them. This ensures that we’re
hiring for the right team and the right reasons.

So get ready to care a lot about the people you work with."

WE WORK TOGETHER

We insist on working collaboratively. No rockstars. No departments. The whole team owns the whole
project, together.

WE AREN’T BIG ON HIERARCHY

We don’t have an internal “org chart.” The reason is that a traditional hierarchy forms a bottleneck: One person has to ask someone else’s permission to do something, and then that person has to ask someone else’s permission, and so on. The whole process is just a waste of time and it prevents people from building things quickly.

You have mentors and collaborators, not commanders. In other words, you may have a boss, but you’ll never get bossed around.

And we all make things here. If you’ve come to climb a ladder, you’re in the wrong place. Those who show up and tell other people what to do don’t last long.

PLAY IS IMPORTANT

When you walk through our doors, you enter an environment where work and play often intertwine. But there’s a difference between being childish and child-like. We are adults. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.

There’s no reason to pretend you’re busy. You don’t need to hide the video you’re watching if someone walks by your desk. No one is monitoring the websites you look at. We aren’t going to report you for taking a long lunch. Just do great work.

WE DESIGN FOR PEOPLE, NOT AT THEM

We make things for people. Not for consumers. We always ask ourselves (and our clients), “Would I want to use this?”

SHOW DON’T TELL

This is something we tell our clients all the time, and it’s important that we live by these words as well. A better way to put it might be: Don’t talk about it, do it.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR CREW

Much of the work we do is technical. But there’s another skill we all need to have: the interpersonal kind. It isn’t optional. Some people like to pretend that the technical work is all that matters. They’re wrong. This isn’t Rambo2; there are no teams of one here.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to work with others. Our solution is simple: Get to know everyone. No one is just a designer or a strategist. They are people with many dimensions. Understand who they are and it’ll be much easier. You are part of a team, and the health and harmony of your team is part of your job.

WE ARE SMALL BY DESIGN

Every decision about how to structure a company has some upsides and some downsides. When you encounter something that’s a little frustrating about how we work, remember that it’s likely the result of something else about this place that you love.

We’ve kept our company small for more than 13 years, which allows us all to sit in the same room and know each other intimately. It also means we’ve had to sacrifice the economies of scale that come with hundreds or thousands of employees. Sometimes things break or get dirty. We don’t have a maintenance department, so it’s up to you.

DON’T MAKE A 70-PERSON COMPANY FEEL LIKE 700

We’re glad we don’t work at a place where the tech team is in another city. Try not to over-formalize communication. There’s no need to send an email to the person sitting one row away.

WE ALL SIT TOGETHER

At some companies, they make you go to a different floor (or building) to talk to someone outside of your team. That terrifies us. And it’s why we have an open floor plan.

You’re surrounded by smart people from every discipline. Talk to them. Learn from them.

ALL ARE WELCOME

We’ve designed our space for us, not to impress our guests. There’s no imported jellyfish aquarium in the lobby. We don’t have a doorman and we like it that way. Anyone is allowed anywhere, anytime. Make yourself at home.

If someone drops by, they’re going to see us working. That means it might be a bit messy. But that’s the real us.



WE ARE ALL STUDENTS; WE ARE ALL TEACHERS

This has nothing to do with seniority. We all snatch the pebble from each other’s hand. The idea of student becoming teacher and teacher becoming student is one of the greatest aspects of what we do. We share and learn from each other, daily.

And while we don’t expect you to hold anyone’s hand, we encourage you to be a mentor as much as possible. Maybe you’ll learn something too.

BE RESPECTFUL, BUT DON’T BE DELICATE

We’ve found that the best creative breakthroughs happen when people can have a good, passionate argument about an idea, not when they spend weeks tiptoeing around each other. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Just be honest and respectful.



WE ARE PROFESSIONALS

But we hate professionalism. Professional means handling your business with respect. Professionalism is when you’re so buttoned-up that you stop being yourself. It sands all the edges off your personality.

AVOID MEETINGS AT ALL COST

Meetings are the scourge of the modern workplace. A two-hour meeting with six people doesn’t waste two hours. It wastes twelve hours.

If all else fails and you absolutely must have a meeting, clearly state the purpose up front. If you can’t think of one, you probably don’t need to have it. And if you ever—EVER—find … [more]
bigspaceship  organizations  manifesto  2013  howwework  horizontality  culture  business  hierarchies  hierarchy  autonomy  change  adaptability  small  humans  humanism  design  language  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sharing  teaching  learning  making  howweteach  howwelearn  lcproject  meetings  professionalism  collaboration  critique  careerism  camaraderie  agency  trust  community  manifestos 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Resources | Price Charities
"The City Heights Support Services Snapshots are a compilation of organizations working in City Heights, a community in the Mid-City area of San Diego. Each snapshot lists information about an organization, their programs, and the population they serve.

Hopefully this will be a helpful resource for organizations and residents as they work together to meet the needs of the City Heights community.  

Please contact Phillip Barbour, with questions or comments at: pbarbour@price-entities.com

Disclaimer
Unless otherwise specifically stated, the information contained herein is made available to the public by Price Charities for use as a resource document. Price Charities developed the City Heights Support Services Snap Shots with the intent to transmit information to strengthen networking between organizations. Price Charities compiled all information with the express permission of the appropriate entity, neither Price Charities nor any other agency or entities named hereof assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information.

View the City Heights Support Services Snapshots
http://www.pricecharities.com/City-Heights-Initiative/Resources/Snapshots%2012.2.13.pdf

View a pin map of the services
https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211379002637410025926.0004e856be20f6b4d52d2&msa=0&dg=feature "
cityheights  community  pricecharities  sandiego  organizations  maps 
december 2013 by robertogreco
tim wright: digital writer: Some Thoughts About Innovation and Failure
"The trick, apparently, is to *learn* from failure. Only then is failure worth risking. That way the 'innovation' has a point even if it doesn't deliver immediate value. I'd argue, however, that we don't always have to learn from failure, and that sometimes making the same mistakes over and over again might even be part of the innovation (or rather the *invention*) process.

I've worked on lots of failed projects. I'm quite proud of it (in a way). I worked on a project recently, in fact, that was pretty much a failure. (Such a failure that it recently came *second* in an innovation contest - LOL.)"



"So for my money, this leaves 'innovation' as the poor second-cousin of genuine 'invention'. I'd also like to claim that invention can and does often happen in a bubble, and doesn't have to relate to anything that came before. *And* I'd also want to suggest that failure doesn't necessarily need to have a learning point or any value.

We can just noodle about and experiment and repeat and fail again and again and again without any obvious point. Many great artists have done this. It is allowed - and may even be a more natural way to get to truly great new things than enforcing a programme of 'innovation'.

Two cheers, then, for Tom Uglow for being brave enough to face the consequences of our failure and admit that the benefits and value of the #dream40 experiment are to a large extent 'unknown'. As he writes:
"Artistic projects like this do not fit one-size-fits all metrics; and I’m not sure what those metrics are anyway – though I do know that targets breed strategies to hit targets, so you’ll forgive us for ignoring them. Hitting targets reward organizations not audiences, or artists, or culture. This was a disruptive experiment and a hugely successful one if judged simply on what we learnt and where we now move forward from. We hope you understand why we did this and that you enjoyed and continue to enjoy it."
"

[via: http://proboscis.org.uk/5383/thoughts-on-failure/ ]
tomuglow  timwright  rewards  kickstarter  failure  innovation  strategies  targets  funding  fundraising  art  metrics  audiences  organizations  culture  learning  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco
thoughts on failure | Proboscis
"As I’m sure others who’ve launched kickstarter projects have experienced, I received a number of messages offering me advice and professional services to enhance the campaign. Essentially all the advice boiled down to a simple nugget, that the only way to succeed was to already have a significant “fanbase” who could be “activated” or motivated to pledge support and then amplify it by sharing the fact they’d supported the project to their friends and social circles. If I’ve learnt anything then its probably that Proboscis doesn’t have a fanbase as such to activate.

The irony, too, was not lost on me of trying to raise funding for a project about free play and improvisation without rules, winners or rewards on a crowdfunding platform entirely structured around rewards and goals – where there are only winners (those who reach or surpass their goal) and losers. Could there be more to this than just irony? Could it be that the conceptual nature of the PlayCubes (indeed of my whole practice) is just so diametrically opposite to the way in which kickstarter and the communities which form around it operate that it was always unlikely to succeed? Tim’s post also quotes Tom Uglow writing about a project they collaborated on, #dream40"

[See also (linked within): http://timwright.typepad.com/main/2013/10/some-thoughts-about-innovation-and-failure.html ]
kickstarter  crowdsourcing  art  2013  gileslane  rewards  goals  funding  fundraising  learning  innovation  metrics  audiences  organizations 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Radical New Institution to Liberate U.S. Data - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"Creating an ecosystem like that—getting municipalities to publish their hunting season times and requirements, recruiting an organization to host those agglomerated data, and alerting app developers that the data are coming—requires a central advocacy organization capable of talking to developers and public servants. It’s the kind of community Jaquith hopes to set up—and then walk away from.

“Ideally, the U.S. ODI’s role is forgotten,“ he said.

Jaquith hopes the institute itself, in fact, will be forgotten. If this brief, experimental phase seems successful, he said, and the Knight Foundation establishes the institute, it will be designed to last only a few years.

“We’re gonna term limit it, and we’re thinking that limit will be four years,” he said. In other words, if the institute is widly successful, it will close in 2017.

Advocacy organizations, said Jaquith, either succeed in their advocacy or fail. If they fail, they should stop and let other organizations step in.

Jaquith said he hoped the defined end date would give the U.S. ODI a sprint-like atmosphere. An institute extant for four years would span a year into the term of the next U.S. president, bridging the gap between administrations. It would not, however, erect a zombie institution.

“If there’s never an end date,” he said, “then what’s the urgency?“

Right now, though, Jaquith is looking forward to a shorter, six-month sprint. The ODI, striving to be as lean as possible, won’t even have an office now. And, at this point, the ODI remains a plan rather than a place."
robinsonmeyer  2013  waldojaquaith  intentionallyephemeral  problemsolving  data  odi  usodi  advocacy  organizations  plannedobsolescence  adhoc 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Studio-X NYC: An Unsolicited charter for the Very Large Organization
"A guest post by Javier Arbona, written to accompany the opening of Very Large Organizations, an exhibition by Jordan Geiger, at Studio-X NYC.
Outside of the purity of cultural scripts that we might regard to be politically authentic are rapidly mutating political scripts that may be the most immediate tools in the world’s urgent situations, despite their lack of national pedigree and reference to political theology. These are the dirty tools and techniques of an extrastatecraft that might be tilted toward many different political aims. (Keller Easterling)


1. Very Large Organization (VLO). The name itself, coined by Jordan Geiger, conjures an imagery of bubbles, air, foam, and inflatables filled with helium. The VLOs hover above us, They are atmospheric; orbital, even. Make no mistake about it, they need solid ground and touchdown points. They require earth-based networks of human communications, both digital and not. They must have a calculable, perpetual motion in order to ensure economic growth.

2. The bizarre, hidden architecture of the VLO is a mash-up of legal rights, aerial spaces, entrepots, and credit ratings. Under the burnished surface of its sheathing lies a fierce competition for finance, favor, advantage, and immediacy.



"11. Geographical imaginaries of the VLO can run the risk of mirroring the pastoralism of an idealized digital nomad. Therefore, a question on architecture’s role: how to challenge dominant imaginations that skirt democracy, or raise the difficult questions of collective rights, benefits, and opposition? Where do these citizenship rights become spatial, or put differently, in which spaces are rights ensured?"



18. It remains an imperative to take on much more, beyond the scope of this charter of the VLO: energy, scale, finance, secrecy, privatization, cronyism, governance, infrastructure, monuments, and so on. What are emergent notions of publicness, or lack thereof? Who’s left with the bill for that which is “too large to fail,” yet often does? The role of architecture is, in one sense, to inquire into the material dimensions of these questions. Architects can expand our notions, imaginations, and representations of the presence of the VLO in everyday life, multiplying possibilities for appropriation. But that can’t be all. The VLO scrambles social expectations of home, travel, privacy, work, and health. The most important act begins with drawing the first line."
javierarbona  organizations  power  politics  vlo  size  economics  control  manipulation  law  legal  darkmatter  capitalism  growth  architecture 
october 2013 by robertogreco
John Kay - To secure stability, treat finance and fast food alike
"We have experience of structures in which management or regulatory committees in Moscow or Washington take the place of the market in determining the criteria by which a well-run organisation should be judged, and that experience is not encouraging. The truth is that in a constantly changing environment nobody really knows how organisations should best be run, and it is through trial and error that we find out.

Financial stability is best promoted by designing a system that is robust and resilient in the face of failure, which is why effective and implementable mechanisms of resolution are the key to meaningful financial reform. Some progress has been made, but overall very little; living wills too complex to implement at all, far less within hours, are no solution to the problem of too complex to fail."
government  regulation  resilience  economics  2013  johnkay  via:taryn  systems  stability  finance  organizations  complexity  uncertainty 
october 2013 by robertogreco
russell davies: activities not audiences
"An 'audience' is an organisational convenience from a broadcast age. It's a reasonable way of segmenting the world so you can buy media but as a way of actually talking to people it doesn't work. Most good advertising gets round it the same way good art does - by using the specific to illuminate the general, but most advertising isn't good. So you end up with crude panderings like appealing to women by making all men seem like feckless idiots. Or by saying everyone born in a particular decade has a particular way of looking at the world.

People, markets, customer bases, aren't this simple. Mothers are also small business owners, students and firefighters. Segmenting your users into audiences is always reductionist and rarely helpful. Resisting the obvious segmentations gets you briliant thinking like this.

The whole point of 'digital', the very opportunity of it, is that you don't have to segment people like this. They segement themselves by looking for the thing they want to do. 

If your primary focus is on user needs then your task is simple - work out the specific thing people are trying to do and then make it as simple and quick for them as possible. Your design, your engineering, your research, your testing are all then focused on making that one thing work.

It becomes very easy to define success and failure, it's easy to iterate and improve and your research and testing goals are clear. You talk to and work with users in order to help them do something. You only need to understand 'who they are' in as much as it provides a context and background to help them do things."
audiences  audience  2013  russelldavies  organizations  marketing  focus  purpose 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Rise Above The LMS #4C13 [video & transcript] - betajames
"If we acknowledge that writing often constitutes public work, if we are interested in enhancing the status of first-year composition, we should rethink housing our courses in learning management systems."



"Blackboard wasn't written for me. Blackboard wasn't written for me as an educator or for that person as a student. Blackboard was written for the Blackboard company to dominate education in a very particular way. Blackboard was created to help create an equivalence between distance learning and real-life learning so that in your classroom you're actually using this technology as much as you would long distance...It's created not to promote the user's agency, but to decrease the user's agency and increase the institution's dependence on this piece of software."



"For as much as Blackboard may be about preserving itself as the top LMS option, it is also about preserving the traditional aspects of higher education."



"I also agree with Matthew Gold’s perspective that the problem with learning management systems ‘lies in the conjunction of three words that should not appear together. Learning is not something that can be “managed” via a “system.”’ Given how we may use Blackboard or another platform, our course banners might as well read “Under Old Management.” Many of the faults of traditional LMS platforms are also the faults of higher education.

Still, the title of this talk isn’t “Rage Against The LMS.” Well, it was, but it isn’t anymore. In fact, my co-panelist Brian McNely has, in his words, “backed away from a militant anti-LMS perspective in everyday practice, in large part because it’s simply not conducive to getting things done with what we have…I don’t have the energy or influence to overturn my university’s LMS policy; I can offer my students interesting workarounds to the limitations of the LMS.” Like him, I’m more interested in how we might rise above the LMS, either through alternatives or by other means."



"we need to see the LMS as an opportunity to reconsider how and what it is we do as teachers.

This diagram is part of a blog entry by Lisa M. Lane in which she looks at how and where courses begin. According to Lane, starting in an LMS implies a teacher-centric model, closer connection with the college and its structures, greater concern for security and privacy, and emphasis on presentation and content over interactivity and community. Starting on the open web or a social media site implies a learner-centric model, greater connection with the outside world, and emphasis on community over content. "



"This diagram is part of a blog entry by D’Arcy Norman in which he sees a role for the LMS in higher education “if for no other reason than the simple reality that most instructors, and many students, aren’t ready, willing, or able to forge their own solutions." Norman also acknowledges that “even a grassroots No-LMS environment eventually grows to resemble an LMS-like space." Through these diagrams, we can come to see the LMS in general as less of a learning management system and more of a learning mediated system."
lms  education  blackboard  highereducation  highered  management  control  openweb  cv  jamesschirmer  institutions  institutionware  douglasrushkoff  2013  henryrollins  punk  edupunk  open  hierarchy  organizations  zachdelarocha  matthewgold  d'arcynorman  howweteach  howwelearn  brianmcnely  blackflag  lisamlane  williambeasley  ds106 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Flyways: Change Observer: Design Observer
"When the swallows twitter excitedly overhead, I envy how lightly they manage to live. I compare their tiny needs for external energy to the prodigious amounts needed to keep us humanoids fed and watered. I contrast the way the swallows throw their nests together — from found materials — with the billions of tons of resources, often gathered from faraway lands, that we pour into our own structures. And which we basically sit in, waiting to be provisioned.

For ninety nine percent of human existence we lived far more like the swifts than we do today. We had very few possessions. Materials for shelter, clothing, and tools were all at hand. Because we needed little, we wanted little. We got by without a state, a market, or advanced technology. We thrived in the absence of strategic visions, design thinking, concepts, plans, budgets, or controls. We worked, for the most part, cooperatively. We didn’t borrow from the future. We shared."
johnthackara  birds  swallows  nature  mobility  nomads  nomadism  lightness  simplicity  anarchism  self-organization  designthinking  strategicplanning  control  government  organizations  migrations  migration  cooperation  humans  slow  small 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Our Guide to Experience Mapping - Adaptive Path
"We've been doing experience mapping in our practice for several years now. Why? Customers are increasingly choosing products and services based on the quality of the experiences they have with them. These experiences often break down when they span multiple channels. As a result, organizations need a holistic, human-centered view of the experiences they create. In short, they need a map.

Through trial and error, we’ve refined our approach while helping organizations to identify new strategic opportunities and incite coordinated cross-functional action. We have shared insights on this blog. We have presented our evolving point of view at conferences and taught hundreds of practitioners in workshops around the world. Along the way, the design and business communities have asked us for more insights on the why, what, and how of experience mapping.

Off we go.
Today, we're releasing our Guide to Experience Mapping. For free.

In the guide, we provide a succinct overview of the process of mapping experiences in collaboration with your organization. Why collaborative? We firmly believe that the activity of mapping, not the artifact of the map, is the crucial ingredient to ensure that a better understanding of your customers will lead to change. We think you will learn to agree."

[Guide: http://mappingexperiences.com/ ]
mapping  maps  experiencemapping  adaptivepath  howto  organizations 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Bossless Office Trend -- New York Magazine
"A nonhierarchical workplace may just be a more creative and happier one. But how would you feel if the whole office voted on whether to hire you—and when to give you a raise?"
hierarchy  horizontality  work  business  power  collaboration  cooperation  workplace  community  tcsnmy  lcproject  organizations  leadership  management  administration 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Leaders everywhere: A conversation with Gary Hamel | McKinsey & Company
"So, already, I think we’ve understood that value is created, more and more, out there on the periphery. But we still have these organizations where too much power and authority are reserved for people at the top of the pyramid. Ultimately, yes, I think the structures, the compensation, the decision making must catch up with this new reality.

I’ve found it kind of interesting. Most companies are now quite comfortable with 360-degree review, where your peers, your subordinates, and so on review your performance. In the best cases, that’s all online, and everybody can see it. But I would argue that the next important step is going to be 360-degree compensation because if you show me an organization where compensation is largely correlated with hierarchy, I can tell you that’s not going to be a very innovative or adaptable organization. People are going to spend a lot of their time managing up rather than collaborating. There will be a lot of competition that goes into promotion up that formal ladder rather than competing, really, to add value. So, increasingly, compensation has to be a correlate of value created wherever you are, rather than how well you fought that political battle, what you did a year or two or three years ago that made you an EVP or whatever."

[via: http://www.jarche.com/2013/06/social-business-needs-social-management/ via Taryn]
leadership  administration  compensation  conversation  collaboration  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  value  power  labor  organization  organizations  authority  garyhamel 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Maverick Colleges: Ten Noble Experiments in American Undergraduate Education (1993)
[Second edition (1996) of the book with some additional schools here in PDF: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/experimental-study-group/es-291-learning-seminar-experiments-in-education-spring-2003/readings/MITES_291S03_maverick.pdf ]

[Wayback:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130730023648/http://www.mit.edu/~jrising/webres/maverick.txt
https://web.archive.org/web/19961105162647/http://www.gse.utah.edu/EdAdm/Galvin/Maverick.html ]

"This book is a product of a University of Utah graduate seminar conducted in the spring of 1991: "Notable Experiments in American Higher Education" (Educational Administration 728). The contributing authors are professor of educational administration L. Jackson Newell and seminar students, each of whom selected an innovative, or "experimental," college for research and reporting."

"Common Themes:

As seminar participants exchanged findings about the ten selected colleges, several prominent themes emerged that had not been predetermined by selection criteria but appeared to indicate common postures among experimental colleges. These include:

• Ideals spawning ideas. In most cases, the ten colleges appeared to start with the ideals of visionary founders. For some, the ideal concerned the citizens who would emerge from the learning experience …

• Emphasis on teaching; retreat from research. The vast majority of experimental colleges are liberal education colleges where the art of teaching and the development of students are values of high esteem. …

• Organization without specialization. Not unexpectedly, these experimental colleges also tended to turn away from the disciplinary organization of scholarship that had sprung from the German research university model. …

• Administrative innovations. Freedom from traditional higher education bureaucracy and hierarchy have been common pursuits of the colleges studied. …

Divergent Approaches:

Just as common themes instruct us about the aims and aspirations of various experimental colleges, so too do their divergent approaches. Two notable areas of difference among the colleges focus on who should attend and how their learning might best be organized during the college years."

[Bits from the section on Black Mountain College:]

"Its educational commitment--to democratic underpinnings for learning that comes from "human contact, through a fusion of mind and emotion" (Du Plessix-Gray 1952:10)-- was reflective of a larger liberal environment that managed a brief appearance before the 1950s ushered in fear of Communism and love of television."



"Rice and his colleagues had stronger convictions about how a college should operate than about how and what students might learn. Democracy would be paramount in the administration of the college, and structure would be loose. Students and faculty joined in marathon, long-winded decision-making meetings with decisions ranging from a faculty termination to a library acquisition.

Particularly prominent, and vital to the democratic underpinnings envisioned by Rice, was the absence of any outside governing body. Rice had determined that control exerted by boards of trustees and college presidents rendered faculty participation meaningless, limiting faculty to debate, "with pitiable passion, the questions of hours, credits, cuts. . . . They bring the full force of their manhood to bear on trivialities. They know within themselves that they can roam at will only among minutiae of no importance" (Adamic, 1938:624).

The faculty did establish a three-member "Board of Fellows," elected from among them and charged with running the business affairs of the College. Within a year, a student member was added to the Board."



"The 23-year history of Black Mountain College was one of few constants and much conflict. Three forceful leaders marked three distinct periods during the 23 years: the John Rice years, the Josef Albers decade, and the Charles Olson era.

During the first 5 years of the College, a solidarity of philosophy and community gradually took shape. It revolved largely around John Rice's outgoing personality (much intelligence and much laughter mark most reports from colleagues and students) and forceful opinions about education. He was determined, for example, that every student should have some experience in the arts.

This translated as at least an elementary course in music, dramatics and/or drawing, because:
There is something of the artist in everyone, and the development of this talent, however small, carrying with it a severe discipline of its own, results in the student's becoming more and more sensitive to order in the world and within himself than he can ever possibly become through intellectual effort alone. (Adamic 1938:626)

Although he cautioned against the possible tyranny of the community, Rice eventually decided that some group activity would,
…help the individual be complete, aware of his relation to others. Wood chopping, road-mending, rolling the tennis courts, serving tea in the afternoon, and other tasks around the place help rub off individualistic corners and give people training in assuming responsibility. (Ibid, 1938:627)



"Rice soon discovered what he would later call the "three Alberses"--the teacher, the social being and the Prussian. The Prussian Albers decried the seeming lack of real leadership at the College and the free-wheeling, agenda-less, community-wide meetings. Rice noted later, "You can't talk to a German about liberty. You just waste your breath. They don't know what the hell you mean" (Duberman 1972:69)."



"The war years ushered in a different kind of Black Mountain; one where students, and at least some faculty members, started lobbying for more structure in learning, but yet more freedom outside the classroom. Lectures and recitations were starting to occur within the classroom, while cut-off blue jeans and nude sun bathing appeared outside. Influential faculty member Eric Bentley insisted to his colleagues: "I can't teach history if they're not prepared to do some grinding, memorizing, getting to know facts and dates and so on…" (Duberman 1972:198). Needless to say, with Albers and many of the original faculty still on board, faculty meetings were decisive and volatile.

Overshadowing this dissent, however, was a new program that was to highlight at least the public notion of a historical "saga" for the College, the summer institutes. Like much at Black Mountain, the summer institutes started more by chance than choice."



"The summer institutes grew throughout the 1940s to include notable talents in art, architecture, music and literature. And it is probably these institutes and the renown of the individuals in attendance that contributed most to Black Mountain's reputation as an art school."



The excitement and publicity generated by the summer sessions, in addition to a general higher education population explosion spurred by the G.I. Bill, put the Black Mountain College of the late 1940s on its healthiest economic footing yet.

Still, Black Mountain managed to avoid financial stability. Student turnover negated some of the volume gains. Faculty salaries rose substantially, but grants and endowments did not. Stephen Forbes, for example, who had always been counted on to supply money to the College in tough times, refused a request in 1949 because he was disenchanted with the new emphasis on arts education at the expense of general education. The ability to manage what money it had also did not increase at Black Mountain, although Josef Albers proposed a reorganization that would include administrators and an outside board of overseers. In the wake of arguments and recriminations about the financial situation and how to solve it, a majority (by one vote) of the faculty called for the resignation of Ted Dreier, the last remaining faculty member from the founding group. In protest, four other faculty members resigned--including Josef and Anni Albers. By selling off some of the campus acreage, the remaining faculty managed to save the College and retain its original mindset of freedom from outside boards and administrators, while setting the stage for yet another era in its history [Charles Olson].



"What Albers lacked in administrative ability, he compensated for in tenacity and focus. What Rice lacked in administrative ability, he balanced with action and ideas. However, when Olson couldn't manage the administrative function, he simply retreated. His idea about turning the successful summer institutes into a similar series of year-long institutes fell on deaf faculty ears. So he gave up trying to strengthen the regular program."



"The vast majority of former Black Mountain students can point to clear instances of lasting influence on the rest of their lives. Mostly, this seems to have occurred through association: with one or two faculty members who made a difference, with a "community" of fellow individuals who were essential resources to one another, or with a new area of endeavor such as painting or writing or farming. Black Mountain, apparently, was a place where association was encouraged. Perhaps this occurred through the relatively small number of people shouldered into an isolated valley, perhaps by a common dedication to the unconventional, or perhaps to the existence of ideals about learning and teaching. At any rate, the encouragement of association with people and with ideas was not the norm in higher education then, nor is it now. Clearly, it is possible to graduate from most colleges and universities today with little, if any, significant association with faculty, students or ideas.

But at Black Mountain, as at other experimental colleges, association could hardly be avoided. Engagement with people and ideas was paramount; activity was rampant. It was social, and it was educational. As Eric Bentley would remark:

Where, as at Black Mountain, there is a teacher to every three students the advantage is evident. . .a means to … [more]
deepspringscollege  reed  reedcollege  stjohn'scollege  prescottcollege  bereacollege  colleges  alternative  alternativeeducation  lcproject  openstudioproject  experientialeducation  unschooling  deschooling  1991  ljacksonnewell  katherinereynolds  keithwilson  eannadams  cliffordcrelly  kerrienaylor  zandilenkbinde  richardsperry  ryotakahashi  barbrawardle  antiochcollege  antioch  hierarchy  organizations  ephemeral  leadership  teaching  learning  education  schools  research  visionaries  ideals  idealism  specialization  generalists  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  transdisciplinary  innovation  freedom  bureaucracy  universityofchicago  collegeoftheatlantic  democracy  democraticeducation  structure  ephemerality  popupschools  small  smallschools  josefalbers  charlesolson  johnandrewrice  lucianmarquis  highered  highereducation  progressivism  blackmountaincollege  bmc  maverickcolleges  evergreenstatecollege  experientiallearning  miamidadecommunitycollege  ucsantacruz  monteithcollege  fairhavencollege  westernwashingtonuniv 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Systemantics
"Jones found that a dozen other skilled professionals who made up the staff of the project had experienced the same catastrophe. That ambitious project, designed to advance solutions to the "problem," had, in fact, taken most of the available workers in the field and neutralized them."

"Faced with this realization, and moved by the dramatic and touching crisis that had overtaken his colleague, the author resolved to redouble his researches into the causes of organizational ineptitude and systems malfunction, seeking deep beneath the surface for the hidden forces that caused the best-laid plans to "gang aft agley." Little did he suspect, that that moment, where those studies would lead. He had not yet experienced the blinding illumination of the OPERATIONAL FALLACY. The FUNDAMENTAL THEOREM OF SYSTEMANTICS lay well over the horizon. Even the relatively simple and easy-to-understand GENERALIZED UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE was not yet a gleam. Those and other deep-ranging and depressing generalizations were to come only much later, after exhaustive researches conducted under the least auspicious circumstances and in settings not calculated to bolster the faint of heart."

"Manager's Mirage.[*] The belief that some event (usually called an "outcome") was actually caused by the operation of the System. For example: The Public School System is believed by some to be responsible for the literary works of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Arthur Miller, since it taught them to write. Similarly, the NIH is credited with the major biomedical advances of the past generation, since it funded the research. We generalize:

The System Takes The Credit (For What Would Probably Have Happened Anyway)."

"In human terms, this means working with human tendencies rather than against them. For example, a state-run lottery flourishes even in times of economic depression because its function is aligned with the basic human instinct to gamble a small stake in hopes of a large reward. The public school system, on the other hand, although founded with the highest and most altruistic goals in mind, remains in a state of chronic failure because it violates the human principle of spontaneity. It goes against the grain, and therefore it does not ever really succeed.

Finally, don't make the system too tight. This is usually done in the name of efficiency, or (paradoxically) in the hope of making the system more permanent. Neither goal is achieved if the resulting system (a) doesn't work at all; (b) disintegrates; or (c) rapidly loses steam and peters out.

Loose Systems Last Longer And Function Better."
systems  systemsthinking  complexity  johngall  1975  organizations  simplicity  education  publicschools  fallacies 
april 2013 by robertogreco
About A Crisis of Enclosure
"The title of the site comes from a short essay by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the English translation of which was published in the journal October shortly before his death. This piece offers a prescient description of how technologies, networks, and media savvy have all contributed to the changing spatiality of power due to the collapse of more traditional “enclosed” institutions. He writes:

Deleuze, G. 1992. “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October. Vol 59 (Winter); p. 3-7.
We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure--prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an "interior," in crisis like all other interiors-- scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It's only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control… (p.3-4)

We are all-too familiar with this collapse. With increasing regularity, public schools announce budget deficits, academic performance shortfalls, and bureaucratic chaos. Hospitals are often dangerously overcrowded, lacking in necessary funding, and have a number of practices politicized and services cut. Even the most well funded interior institutions—state militaries—have in the last twenty years seen the influx of private contractors and corporate service-providers: the military industrial complex run roughshod over the limits of the war machine. Deleuze points out that these changes increased dramatically in frequency following World War II. As rigid structures began their descent into perpetual reformation, a new mode of control—a society of control—began to take their place. Control, as a diagram of power, is decentralized, lightweight and mobile. If institutional enclosures are solid molds, Deleuze argues, than controls are modulations, self-deforming casts that can change to fulfill the needs of power.

In the context of my work, this shift has produced a distinct set of spatial practices that challenge the prevailing logics of detention, placing an emphasis on mobile and open performances of detainment rather than a fixed institutional isolation. Ultimately, post-Cold War detention practices have endured a substantial reorientation, today representing not only the successful completion of counterinsurgency strategy, but increasingly emerging as a vital means of contemporary security practice. Detention is no longer spatially or temporally fixed. Successful detention is not only a question of designing and constructing a secure edifice, but something much more complex. The crisis of enclosure points towards an understanding of how institutional power has leaked out of its interior and is veering towards the total decentralization and free-floating dynamism of control."
enclosure  collapse  institutions  2010  richardnisa  decentralization  organizations  schools  gillesdeleuze  detention  mobile  mobility  open  openness  military  society  control  agility  agile  enclosures  power  anarchism  administration  management  change  hierarchy  hierarchies  societiesofcontrol  deleuze 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Design is the easy part… | disambiguity
"Politics and egos are the main reasons that great design goes awry – either it is never presented (because presenting it is a risk to those egos and would be not wise politically), or it is presented and dismissed, or it is presented and then changed such that egos are not wounded and the politics are in tact, the design integrity is hardly a passing consideration.

Organisation processes and complexity are another common killer. As more and more, the digital products replace the previous products and functions of the organisation, this requires a transition in how things should be done that most organisations are unprepared for an unwilling to support. They’d rather keep doing things the way they always have, and craft a design that doesn’t trouble their processes or require additional resources. You know you’re designing for an organisation on the way out the back door when you come across this – disrupt yourselves or be disrupted, Peter Drucker, amongst others, has been telling us this for half a century (or more). Still, it can be surprisingly hard to do. We don’t like change and the changes required often threaten the existing egos and power structures. See above."
leisareichelt  design  systemsthinking  systems  politics  organizations  disruption  2013  peterdrucker  change  gamechanging  egos  organzationalchange  oganizations  bureaucracy  culture  transitions  strategy 
march 2013 by robertogreco
FREE COOPER UNION! A COMMUNITY SUMMIT part 6: COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY - YouTube
[Transcript is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MrB31AqKM2u0Y0NXAcLx2RHRV1d3aPDMJ-1wwadN6ZY/edit ]

"The question, then, is: what makes Cooper Union sustainable?

It means using a resource that’s producing more than it’s consumed.

And the mistake that’s been made, systemically, is believing that the resource at the bottom of all this, the resource that must be sustained, is money.

It’s not money. Money is a derivative. The resource it’s derived from, the resource it maps to, the resource it measures, is trust.

We have all suffered from thinking that it’s the other way around. We have trusted things because they make money. That’s how Enron happens. That’s how Madoff happens. … Collaterized Debt Obligations…"

" challenge you to find the real and sustainable resources -- transparency, communication, trust, and integrity -- resources that can be renewed endlessly. I'll break my back to build on those and I know that's true of everyone here."
resources  highereducation  highered  education  integrity  organizations  accountability  administration  money  sustainability  leadership  tcsnmy  transparency  trust  cooperunion  2011  kevinslavin 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The challenge of developing a capability | rc3.org
"Often it’s the case that the larger (or older) an organization is, the tougher it is to add a capability in the first place. It’s harder to teach 100 developers to use Test Driven Development and rely on continuous integration rather than traditional QA testing than it is to teach 5. It’s also harder for larger, older, or more conservative organizations to rely on a new capability that has been developed. It often happens that organizations put a lot of work into developing a new capability but they never really get comfortable enough to let it replace an old one.

If nothing else, when you’re discussing projects, it’s worthwhile to ask yourself whether the project leverages an existing capability or requires developing a new one, and planning accordingly. If a new capability is required, both the effort and the risk of failure rise significantly. I’d be willing to bet that Chinese aircraft carrier is never put into active deployment."
aircraftcarriers  china  risk  learning  capabilities  scale  size  organizations  change  via:migurski 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Why Cooper Union can’t be trusted | Felix Salmon
"I can’t help but think this building exists for the same reason as the war in Iraq or Netflix streaming. Somebody with clout got enamoured with the idea, and pointing out its flaws became career-limiting. Like most boondoggles, the idea was grand, inspiring, and financially unrealistic.

It’s just a guess, but that’s a pattern I’ve seen over and over."

[From a comment pointed out by Casey (http://reading.am/CaseyG/comments/6495 ) who adds… ]

"Reminds me of Dan Hill: "Even a Pritzker prize-winning architect such as Richard Rogers cannot, for example, challenge the basic premises of the Barangaroo urban development in Sydney. The combination of masterplan, financial model, political context, local history and local cultures created a tight frame within which the architectural design work must occur. Many of the architects and other designers within the project team knew that the way the question was being framed was fundamentally flawed, but from their relatively lowly position…"
danhill  blingpursuits  onetrackminds  organizations  institutions  trust  buildings  tcsnmy  beenthere  transparency  caseygollan  cooperunion  cooper  2012  felixsalmon 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Harvard Education Letter: “I Used to Think . . . and Now I Think . . .” Reflections on the work of school reform, by Richard Elmore
1. I used to think that policy was the solution. And now I think that policy is the problem. [elaborates]…

2. I used to think that people’s beliefs determined their practices. And now I think that people’s practices determine their beliefs. [elaborates, inlcuding]… The largest determinant of how people practice is how they have practiced in the past, and people demonstrate an amazingly resilient capacity to relabel their existing practices with whatever ideas are currently in vogue. …

3. I used to think that public institutions embodied the collective values of society. And now I think that they embody the interests of the people who work in them. [elaborates, including]…School administrators and teachers engage in practices that deliberately exclude students from access to learning in order to make their work more manageable and make their schools look good."
professionaldevelopment  pd  hierarchy  hierarchies  bureaucracy  organizations  stasis  radicalism  radicals  cv  2010  mindchanging  mindchanges  schools  tcsnmy  administration  policy  institutions  institutionalization  self-preservation  deschooling  unschooling  nelsonmandela  martinlutherkingjr  gandhi  leadership  change  learning  education  richardelmore  mlk  canon  schooling  unlearning 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Velocity 2012: Richard Cook, "How Complex Systems Fail" - YouTube
[Apply this to the design of education systems (or any other type of system). Notice how the school reform movement can be described by 'design for reliability', not 'design for resilience'.]

[Notes here by Taryn:]

"@19:00 [eg:] shiftworkers as the sources of resilience in "as found" systems (monitoring, responding, adapting, learning)

@20:00 design for reliability (boundaries, redundancy, interference protection, assurance, accountability, hiding-of-details) whereas we want resilience (withstand transients, recover swiftly from failure, prioritize high goals, respond to abnormal situations, adapt)

@22:40 how to design for resilience: constant maintenance, transparency of operation, support mental simulations"
responsiveness  access  control  agency  education  schoolreform  monitoring  adaptablerules  adaptation  learning  via:taryn  2012  maintenance  transparency  operations  priorities  adaptability  reliability  accountability  redundancy  failure  complexity  resilience  organizations  systems  richardcook 
september 2012 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Sketchbook: Dark Matter
"Wouter’s notion of dark matter suggests organisations, culture, & the structural relationships that bind them together as a form of material, almost. Usefully, it gives a name to something otherwise amorphous, nebulous yet fundamental. 

Dark matter is a choice phrase. The concept is drawn from theoretical physics, wherein dark matter is believed to constitute approximately 83% of the matter in the universe, yet is virtually imperceptible. It neither emits nor scatters light, or other electromagnetic radiation. It is believed to be fundamentally important in the cosmos—we simply cannot be without it—& yet there is essentially no direct evidence of its existence, & little understanding of its nature. …

The only way that dark matter can be perceived is by implication, through its effect on other things…

…this seemed to me not only apply to the city, but also to institutions and governments, the public sector generally but also companies and firms, politics and commerce."

[See also:
http://www.strelka.com/press_en/dark-matter-and-trojan-horses-dan-hill/?lang=en
http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2012/08/dark-matter-trojan-horses-strategic-design-vocabulary.html
http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2012/08/essay-maginot-line.html
http://brickstarter.org/dark-matter/
https://vimeo.com/39565431 ]
physics  commerce  politics  companies  organizations  culture  cities  2012  darkmatter  danhill  strelkapress 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Leaving the Guardian, creativity vs mild depression, the quantified self and running. |
And then, suddenly it stopped. Opening up the laptop in the evening to throw together two lines of code became too much. The words for a blog post would go racing through my head all day, but the effort needed to sit down that night to write them out was mentally exhausting. This wasn’t just an irritation, it was down right infuriating, I could see myself missing out on interesting things.
That you can sit there and go “I really want to do this” but you just can’t actually get up and make it happen is thuddingly amazing.
Interestingly my posting of Instagram photos increased over this period. I’ve tried to figure out why and this is the closest I could get. Kellan wrote a blog post [http://laughingmeme.org/2012/07/10/oldtweets/ ] about the 1st year of tweets, in which he said it worked best in the first year because of “ambient intimacy”. There were so few of us (relatively) using it that when you tweeted you knew you were mainly broadcasting to just your friends, even though the tweets were public.
thinking  revdancatt  depression  creativity  work  life  quantifiedself  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  flickr  twitter  instagram  blogs  blogging  cv  startups  organizations  guardian  motivation  sharing  identity  self  publicself  onlineself  via:litherland 
august 2012 by robertogreco
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