Plenitudinal Musings

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A nice little read during the holidays was Rich Gold book: [amazon_link asins=’0262072890′ template=’ProductAdNoPrice’ store=’reflektis-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’68afe681-0bd4-11e7-9245-e36cbb2f245f’].

Usually the focus of software development is on the engineering part. Wearing the hat of the engineer, and expecting others to do the same, makes it very hard to make optimal use of our creativity. We all have heard a lot on the goings-on at Apple as a side-effect of Steve Jobs’ death, and one of the things we should be aware of is the prominent position of the designer at Apple. In fact, the lead positions with Apple are taken by designers. Not engineers. Not project managers. Not architects either!

The other two hats are not less important either. The hats of the artist and scientist have something in common, that the engineer and designer, with their focus on “customer satisfaction”, lack: a certain wilfulness, or obstinacy, the drive to pursue a venue just because it is there and fills your dreams, the vision that is larger than you are.

Build a team, and try to incorporate something of these four hats, to create a balance that nurtures creativity. I sometimes use inspiration from other sources to think about team member characteristics, which I want to share with you here.

One is from Marinus Knoope. Unfortunately I do not know of an English translation of his work. There is a German translation (Die Kreationsspirale, see below). He is a Dutch physicist gone psychological, and his book “De Creatiespiraal” (English: The Creation Spiral) is a nice additional view on the subject of creativity that Rich Gold talkes about, and his book provides very practical guidelines for applying this concept on teams and organisations.

Another source of inspiration is the Medicine Wheel from the native American traditions, which uses the four directions of the compass and links these with basic psychological attributes (in this case for example wisdom, justice, courage and temperance). There are many other possible sources: the wheel of astrology is one I also use often.

All of these models, or thinking matrices, have something in common. They describe a “wholeness”, and attempt to achieve “whole-sightedness” (see Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox…How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean ). This is something we not only should attempt to accomplish in our organisation, but also in our products. It functions as an antidote of ant-sightedness, which is endemic in society as well as in software development. I often talk about the importance of realising that there is not so much difference between the way you should organise your product or the team that produces that product. These sources helped me through the holidays, and set a nice tone for me in the coming year.

Happy and creative 2012!

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