Educating Ourselves

23 May 2004|Steve Diller

I’ve been working on a book, in collaboration with Nathan Shedroff, on Designing Meaningful Experiences. The process of pulling our ideas together has been hugely exciting and stimulating. One key aspect of the work has involved trying to read everything I can get my hands on on design, meaning, and experience. A lot to deal with, I know.

We realized that there’d be a lot of verbiage to work through, and wasn’t disappointed. Massive amounts of information are available on all three areas. What surprised me was the frequent lack of sophistication in the business arena on all three subjects, compared to the academic press.

It isn’t as if we don’t have original, rigorous thinkers in the business world. But what do the consumers of business books really look for? It’s hard to say. Most people I know who manage businesses complain about the simplistic nature of much of what’s available.

At the heart of the “typical” business book appears to be an assumption that ideas are, essentially, opportunistically-applied tools, rather than frameworks for broadening one’s perspective on the world.

Academia, in contrast, focuses on the broadening of perspective, but frequently at the expense of usefulness.

So. It’s worth pointing out a few examples of writing that straddles both the usefulness and the the “rigorousness” worlds. These are the books that really are “required reading” by execs and the people who work with them.

Over the next few entries, I’ll say a bit more about the ones that have been particularly useful.

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