When 8 years old, I awoke next morning after a storm. Branches and twigs lay everywhere on the canvas of concrete that formed part of the civilized backyard at the San Carlos (Panama) beach. The twigs had been set there by a callous wind who had ripped them from nearby trees, uprooting them–and the massive trees that spawned them. Often, the pace of change today leaves me cast aside and tired, like a twig blown in by the wind, discarded, half on, half off the path. So much to learn, so the illusion of no-time, the desperation that one is not enough.
Why I would also love to “Scale John Seely Brown” is because, like the best thinkers of our moment, he knows that learning is a continuum and that any institution, from the preschool to the stock exchange, that forgets its learning mission is going to founder. In times of tremendous change, any system that closes itself off from learning will experience an inevitable entropy, and, eventually, devolution and extinction. That is as true for our institutions of formal education as it is for those workplaces that foolishly try to cling to the past, that put their hands over their ears, trying, collectively, to shut out the siren voices of change…
“Scaling JSB” means staying fresh to new ideas, and doing so without the usual drags on the new: nostalgia or utopianism. It means being willing to understand we live in a world that changes fast but, since we are all changing together and since we are all interconnected, well, we can handle it….
Finding ways to collaborate iteratively, as a process and not a product, more as a Twitter stream than as a source code, is the trick. Emphasizing the small and the doable, rather than the gigantic and the idealistic, is probably the best way to embrace differences with imagination, creativity, innovation, a sense of realism but also a sense of play. Besides, if you start small, you can always scale up.
Aside from the buds of excitement, have you ever stopped to reflect on the other changes a fast-changing world brings?
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