JUST A THOUGHT: Efficiency and Flexibility
Michelle Smith suggests examples (drawn from complexity science, ecosystems and ecology, and high finance) of efficiency making us less flexible. She begins:
Personal branding is one of the delights of the digital age. It should include, according to those who know, a strapline that honestly and memorably encapsulates your skills, values, abilities and qualities in a way that differentiates you from those around you. Have you got yours yet?
Thinking about a strapline crystallises one issue often associated with wisdom: namely rigidity and flexibility. As you, or your organisation, develop a strapline, you somehow fix yourself, like a moth neatly pinned in a display case. ‘This is what I am’, ‘This is what we do’, ‘This is what I think’.
Now, we would mostly agree that this a bad thing. People don’t like to be pigeon-holed. According to Alain de Vulpian, in the late-1960s (the start of his ‘Second Modernity’) we in Western Europe actively began to turn away from a ‘mass identity’ (where we identified ourselves by membership of a church, trade union, political party, etc.) and began to seek an identity based on more personal beliefs and values.
The problem is that fixing myself like a moth is also quite handy. Life is very much simpler if I know where I stand on things like the French elections, biological washing powder, the use of the semi-colon, honesty and internet pornography. In fact, if I didn’t know these things, I’d never finish my shopping, writing, voting…
To read the full paper, download the file below.