“Aren’t you a .Net shop?” he asked me.
“No.” I replied
“But you built this in .Net.”
“I would have built it out of rice crispie squares if it were appropriate.”
At Gray Hill Solutions, we don’t subscribe to one coding platform. To do so would be to lose any advances in software tools – which come at a wonderfully bewildering pace. It makes sense, then, to not specialize in the tools – but in the application of tools in general.
Society has finally caught up with Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was on a life-long quest to make the world a better place. That’s a big ticket item. It’s difficult to make the world a better place through myopia.
Leonardo da Vinci is the outstanding example of the comprehensively anticipatory design scientist. Operating under the patronage of the Duke of Milan he designed the fortified defenses and weaponry as well as the tools of peaceful production. Many other great military powers had their comprehensive design scientist-artist inventors; Michelangelo was one of them.
Many persons wonder why we do not have such men today. It is a mistake to think we cannot. What happened at the time of Leonardo and Galileo was that mathematics was so improved by the advent of the zero that not only was much more scientific shipbuilding made possible but also much more reliable navigation. Immediately thereafter truly large-scale venturing on the world’s oceans commenced, and the strong sword-leader patrons as admirals put their Leonardos to work, first in designing their new and more powerful world-girdling ships. Next they took their Leonardos to sea with them as their seagoing Merlins to invent ever more powerful tools and strategies on a world-around basis to implement their great campaigns to best all the other great pirates, thereby enabling them to become masters of the world and of all its people and wealth. The required and scientifically designed secrecy of the sea operations thus pulled a curtain that hid the Leonardos from public view, popular ken, and recorded history. – Bucky Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
The shifts from Leonardos to Pirates and so on were enabled by advances in knowledge. Merely introducing the number 0 into the human brain created a massive revolution not only in technology and travel, but in how we relate to the nature of work and to each other. Fuller here was saying that we can all be geniuses in our own way – we just have to pull back the curtain.
To Fuller, the geniuses were not overly specialized. They could not be. In order to truly be creative, you need materials from which to create. Frans Johannson calls this “the Medici Effect”. The Medici Effect is, in essence, a mashup of ideas that can only come by stepping outside your field of expertise and learning from something radically different. Fishermen have something to teach Internists. Astronauts have something to teach pawn shop owners. You never know, because the nature of insight is that it creatively links ideas that may not seem linkable.
So we are now in a world where we are understanding the world faster than ever before. Digital technology so vastly speeds up the conversation that innovation and invention are common place. “What have you invented for me lately?”
We are now all da Vincis.
In order to be da Vincis, we must now embrace Fuller-style generalism. No one is better to examine than Fuller himself for this. Being a generalist didn’t mean Fuller was mired in reading random books. Fuller built housing and cars. He was an author and and artist. He was practical and theoretical.
Or we can look at Henry J. Kaiser (right). Kaiser oversaw shipyards, steel mills, automotive plants, engineering firms and a massive health care company. Dude was hardly stuck in one mode of thinking.
The fact is that today advances in systemic thinking are requiring more holistic visions. The human body was at one time a collection of fairly autonomous parts that functioned together. Now, the body is understood more as a system and medicine is reacting to this realization. But it doesn’t stop there, because the body reacts to lead in your paint, to particulates in the air, to the sun’s rays, to recycled air, to motor vehicles, to stress … Suddenly being a doctor is even more complicated than before.
Recently when I was in Hospital for pneumonia, the doctors asked me a lot of questions. An not-insignificant number were about stress. Did I own my own company? Was business going well? How was my life at home? Had I suffered a loss recently?
At that point, at least at that hospital, I knew medicine had turned a corner and that we were starting to embrace Fuller’s wisdom at last. Our understanding of the world and life is becoming more systemic and holistic. The advances of technology and the speed of culture are now so fast that expertise is seen as temporal and contextual. What is our expertise today will be obsolete technologically very soon – but the experience of learning and applying the technology is what is really important. The actions are ethereal, the lessons learned are permanent.
Now it’s up to us to let people know those lessons learned and to grow from them. That’s the new expertise. We are all experts, we are all generalists.
Blogged at My House in Seattle, WA