I got back yesterday from a holiday week of no internet connection (and precious little phone signal - offline is the new luxury as my friend Gerd has said) and in my catch up today read that John is undertaking a daily post throughout August detailing out his Smithery 3.0 thesis. It is already shaping up to be a rather fascinating hypothesis (there's still time to catch up - you can start here) building on a collision of ideas from two Stewart Brand books: How Buildings Learn and The Clock of the Long Now. I won't do justice in a brief summary so you should read the full posts, but John's focus is around the relationship between people and space, the implications for change, and how systems like companies feature different layers in each of these things that moves at a different pace. Understanding the relationship between the different components and the different rates of change helps change to happen. One quote from Brand leapt out at me:
“The combination of fast and slow components make the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast gets all the attention, slow has all the power… In a healthy society each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by the livelier levels above”
As an example this means (says John) that you can't just get a whole company of significant scale to incorporate agile principles and you shouldn't try either: "The faster layers are there to generate the heat and noise that is innovation, but it’s the slower components within a system that build these into an organisation’s long-term future". I agree. But (as John does say) the interplay between those different layers is critical. This is why it is so important to understand potential areas of cultural conflict and find ways to protect fragile, different, early stage cultures from the antibodies that will naturally cluster around them in order to try to destroy any foreign elements that are introduced into the system.