My twitter stream delivered an interesting quotation about quotations yesterday. This one, and the tweet came from Bob Marshall:
A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.
Quotations indeed take a fairly large part among tweets and other social web shares. When something troubles us at work, whether we are looking for a solution to a technical or to an organizational problem, and if talking it out with friends and colleagues is not enough, or we are shy and/or unwilling to speak, we find outlet in sharing quotes by reputable gurus, and those quotes reflect how and what we think about this problem.
I only in part agree with the quote by A. Milne above. The habit of using quotations can be perceived as lazy thinking, sometimes. However, I don't think that people who share quotes or links online are the lazy ones. On the contrary, they are the ones who do think. It's just that for the time being they are shy to step forward with their opinion, expressed in their own words. It might be even scary for some, to stand out and say: yes, these are my thoughts, and my words and I'm ready to be accountable for them. We are all human, and we all have things that we are not yet ready to let out to the outer world. This might be out of fear, or out of passive-aggressive reactions, or ... <insert your reason here>. We might be too lazy to care about building formal logical discourses so as to pass on the message to those who do not share our thinking right away. Some people seem to resonate naturally with each other, and with some people a heavily geared-up persuasive rhetoric has to be used. Take a moment and think: which people in your social circles throw links or tweet quotes instead of writing or speaking up? They are just not yet ready to make this leap, the shift from the safe protection of quotes and references to the scary uncertainty of how the world and others would react to what would then officially be treated as their own opinion. Absolutely, they need to be encouraged to speak out and to write up.
The scary uncertainty got hold of me and of my article on self-organization earlier this week. I expressed my own opinion, backed up by intuition and personal experience, and didn't pay much attention to references, details and credibility proofs. If I did, it would take a book, not just one article. Anyway.
There's another controversial subject that probably has many heads in software development thinking about it. I want to bring it forth, but this time I will take a safe protection of George Lois, an advertising guru, who wrote the book called "Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!). Software development is a creative pursuit, at least, when it comes to the ideas part, so I was delighted to see that a recognized creativity guru thinks about teamwork along the same lines that I do. The subject of groupthink, and the dynamics of software development teams working efficiently together has preoccupied me for quite some time, but I will hold back my thoughts for now, letting George Lois speak instead:
Team work might work in building an Amish barn, but it can't create a Big Idea.
The accepted system for the creation of innovative thinking in a democratic environment is to work cooperatively in a teamlike ambience. Don't believe it. Whatever the creative industry, when you're confronted with the challenge of coming up with a Big Idea, always work with the most talented innovative mind available. Hopefully.. that's you.
Avoid group grope and analysis paralysis. The greatest innovative thinker of our age remains Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, a modern-day Henry Ford. Jobs was not a consensus builder but a dictator who listened to his own intuitions, blessed with an astonishing aesthetic sense.
Everybody believes in co-creativity — not me.
Be confident of your own, edgy, solo talent.
Wait, wait. Before you throw rotten tomatoes, George Louis does give credit to teamwork, and I do, too. Here's what goes next in the book:
Once you've got the Big Idea, that's where teamwork comes in - selling the Big Idea, producing the Big Idea and bringing the Big Idea into fruition.