I love Joi Ito. I’ve known him for some years now, and I’ve learnt to spend time thinking about what he shares, in person or in print. He has a habit of framing things in ways that teach me, that challenge me.
Kevin Marks is also someone who I have a lot of time for. Known him for years, enjoy working with him. [We worked together at BT, we're working together at salesforce.com]. He too makes me think. Regularly. Polymaths like him are rare. @accidentallight and @parkparadigm come to mind, two others I’ve had the honour of working with.
So when Kevin recommended-via-tweet something Joi had said which had not hit my radar yet, I had to find out more.
Which led me to this submission by Joi to Steelcase 100. It’s so short I feel I can’t really quote the lot, you should follow the link instead. But the first sentence says it all for me:
One hundred years from now, the role of science and technology will be about becoming part of nature rather than trying to control it.
Becoming part of, rather than trying to control.
In essence, this is what I was trying to say in The Kernel For My Blog, way back in 2005. I was using the words “connected” and “channelled” to try, somewhat clumsily, to describe what Joi has stated so elegantly. By “connected” I meant “being part of” and by “channelled” I meant “being controlled by”. I’m so glad I now have better terms to use.
What Joi says about science and technology for the next 100 years is very meaningful for business over the next 10. Why do I say that?
To paraphrase Joi in a different, yet related context:
I think the role of the enterprise will be about becoming part of the wider community rather than trying to control it.
So much of “business” has been about pursuing efficiency, scale and “exponential growth” at the expense of our customers. We have rewarded those who invent technologies that control our customers in some way. This is clearly not sustainable.
We must understand that we live in a complex system where everything is interrelated and interdependent and that everything we design impacts a larger system.
My dream is that 100 years from now, we will be learning from our customers, integrating with them and using science and technology to bring them into our lives to make everything we do not only zero impact but a positive impact to the natural system that we live in.
We all have to learn more about becoming part of the complex system we live in, rather than trying to control aspects of it. Mastery is expressed in skill and self-control, not in dominion or domination.
My thanks to Joi and to Kevin for giving me a better frame for my thoughts and beliefs in this context.