"Legitimate political change doesn’t come from one person, even a superpowered just person making decrees. Legitimate change comes from a broad base of popular support, things like that. We don’t know what a comic book about that would look like."
"[superheroes] can be problematic... how are they using their power?...is a story about reinforcing the status quo, or about overturning the status quo? And most popular superhero stories are always about maintaining the status quo." - Ted Chiang
"Superheroes, they supposedly stand for justice. They further the cause of justice. But they always stick to your very limited idea of what constitutes a crime, basically the government idea of what constitutes a crime." - Ted Chiang
You spend years studying, practicing, and developing deep skills to qualify for a job as an expert.
Then you discover work is often w/ people with none of your expertise but the power to ignore your field at a whim as if it didn't exist.
2. The joy of being an expert:
Your insights are needed in thousands of important places and situations and you are one of a small group of people who has the potential to make great things happen. The rewards from solving problems the way you can are rare in the working world.
3. The surprise of being an expert:
Is at first you think it's advanced knowledge that matters most, but you learn the real problem that holds progress back is mostly people who have never heard of your field or don't know the basics.
The first principle of thinking about the future is to admit we are a foolish species. We do dumb things. We get distracted easily. We repeat history. We are tribal. We are wired for hunting/gathering, not for "civilization". If you don't start here you are part of the problem.
When people talk about the future they tend to imagine we are some other species that doesn't have our staggeringly dumb track record. It's an amazing phenomenon. It's almost like futurists have never studied history, much less the history of people talking about the future.
I really am all for progress, and finding ways to be optimistic, but it must be rooted in reality and an honest appraisal of human nature if there is any hope of achieving it.
1. Many leaders in organizations set up designers to fail.
They hire designers without understanding their value and what must be done for them to succeed. The opportunity is a lie when the truth is designers are involved too late and with too little power to ever succeed.
2. Hiring designers only to ignore them might be the cruelest kind of design theater. It enables a CEO to say "we have a great UX team" while in reality, they reward unqualified PMs and engineers for doing most of the designing.
3. What is never said openly is projects *already* have designers who have not agreed to hand over power.
Without explicitly redistributing that power, leadership has failed. They either are incompetent for not recognizing it's their job to do this or for failing to do it.
1. In the debate over the best communication tool, like Slack or email, what's missing is consideration of org culture. Tools rarely change culture, but culture always changes tools.
The trap is changing tools is less scary for managers than learning how to change culture.
2. Managers can't help but want tools that make their job easier. As much as they might say "this will help our team" unless they're doing user research to understand how their team actually works, they are heavily biased towards their own needs and experiences.
3. Often the worst abusers of "the spirit of the tool" are managers. Who writes the worst emails? Who clearly skims messages when replying? Who swoops in ignoring context to drop decision bombs and fly away? Managers.
Behavior modeling tells us what leaders do, others copy.
1. It's easy to think being a star at a job will make for a good manager, but it's a fallacy. They are different roles. Good managers help everyone do better work, regardless of their talents - a very different skill from being a solo star.
2. Stars pride themselves on great solo work. Shifting to taking pride in how others work, removing roadblocks, coaching, encouraging... is often hardest for the greatest talents. They can't let go. They delegate poorly. Talent growth challenges their "supremacy."
3. More modest talents often make for better managers. They're attracted to leadership and team challenges, and don't mind having stars work for them. They recognize their value isn't personal greatness, but making others great. Or better. Or happier in their work.
1. The breakthrough for people with ideas is the day they realize even the best idea does little on its own.
An idea often depends on a system for it to have value. That system could be an organization, a community or a technology. This is shocking because…
2. The mythology around ideas is that they are magical. That obtaining an idea is rare, but once you have it you've done the hard part. This is the *myth of epiphany* - most epiphany stories skip the real work that happened. Myths are fun after all!
1. The word design means something different for designers than for others. If asked “Do you want a better designed world?” most people will say yes! But few think of designers as people who can help.
How did design separate itself from people’s perception of the world?..
2. I agree with the sentiment here if design means the trivial.
But what about healthcare design? Voting system design? the design of budgets, laws and policies? The design of social media? The design of voting rights?
And the design of media that promotes better designs?
3. One problem is designers love specializing. We proudly divide ourselves: web designers, mobile designers, org designers, UX, IA, Service… and on it goes. This helps find jobs but doesn’t invite outsiders to seek our experience for use across society.
1. This is Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984) one of the first African American female architects in the U.S. She was a pioneer, fighting through gender and racial barriers in architecture & the arts.
She played a key role in working against redlining through her creative talents.
2. Born to mixed race parents, they had to move from Virginia to DC in order to get married. He was a master builder, but lost work after the move, likely due to racism. He committed suicide in 1915.
She graduated from high school that same year, top of her class.
3. She earned two art degrees from Columbia University and then returned to Virginia. With no formal architecture training, she designed and built Azurest South, next to the VSU campus. She was soon appointed head of the art dept.