Practice and Principle - Praxis

Anchor for this item  posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 6:35 pm MST

In his EEK Speaks blog, Eugene Kim (of BlueOxen / ''Purple'' fame) posted this pair of items that resonated with a peculiar harmony for me:

"Wright on Professions" - I often talk about the craft of collaboration, and how we need to treat collaboration as a discipline. There needs to be enough cognitive structure there so that we can get better at collaborating on collaboration. You have to be careful, though, because over-formalization creates its own set of problems, and the line between that and just-enough structure is a thin one.
After JeffShults and I wrapped our April Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration workshop, MattTaylor approached me and showed me a letter FrankLloydWright had written to TalmadgeHughes, the head of the AmericanInstituteOfArchitects on January 22, 1945:
My dear man:
You put me up against the same old hard-spot! Forty years past I've had to seem uncooperative and ungracious by refusing to join the Institute. Perhaps I can make clear to you why I refuse again.

I do not join the A.I.A. because I am more interested in Architecture than in the Profession and I felt, as I still feel, able to serve not only Architecture but the Profession better outside the Institute than in it.

I crave good-will and the comradeship of my kind -- every man does. But I've felt that I couldn't do the work I wanted to do inside any "Profession." I've had to be a free-lancer and become anathema to the good old guard: the A.I.A. As I then felt, I still believe that Architecture (my real objective) is more than ever Discipline in deciding this matter.

I believe no man can really cooperate except as he maintains the independence of his Spirit."
[Wright goes on to deprecate interdependence; I happen to think that interdependence is a step beyond mere independence ... perhaps Wright was just showing his age's aversion to dependence in its simplistic form.]
We have to start talking more seriously about what [collaboration] is, but at the same time, we can't get so caught up with it that we become a Profession (in the worst way) and lose the essence of what we're supposed to be about.
I have chosen to speak my peace haltingly rather than glibly mouth the more highly valued sophisms and lose touch with the essence of my thinking.

"Developing Shared Language" - DrummondReed recently wrote about the IdentityRightsAgreements session at last month's Internet Identity Workshop. While the outcome was fruitful, Drummond wrote, 'The biggest frustration was that after an hour and fifteen minutes we were just really getting started - we needed a good half-day on the subject.'

JamieDinkelacker told me a similar story last year in describing a SOA gathering of gurus. The goal was to share knowledge and to advance the state of the art, but the participants spent most of their time arguing over the definition of 'services.'"
There's a real social benefit to being able to smile obligingly and nod warmly ... regardless of whether or not any sort of meaning has been communicated. Such is the sophistication that greases the gears of our industry and economy. And we're all of us worse off for it, though a few are astonishingly wealthy.

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