Michael Foley, author of the bestseller „The Age of absurdity - why modern life makes it hard to be happy“ is the guest of this episode. The book is a celebration of insight from the most diverse philosophers, and an examination of the states we’d like to achieve and desperately are missing to hit. All his books center round deep insights around everyday life. Michael lives in London and since 2007 has completely devoted to writing.
In one of his latest books, he goes into depth with Henri Bergson, a french philosopher, who lived from 1859 to 1941, son to a Polish jewish composer and an Irish jewish mother. At the time he was one of the most influential thinkers and kind of pre-dated quantum physics, chaos theory amongst other topics n science. He also won the nobel price.
One of Bergsons many contributions was process theory. In a nutshell, process theory says that everything is in constant movement, there are no finite end states, everything is connected. While this may sound trivial, the consequences are overwhelming. With this model, Bergson lay the model for models that ended up being discovered by science only decades later. Statements of Quantum Theory, Emergence and Chaos Theory and lots more are such examples.
So, embrace yourself for an entertaining deep dive into what the process view is, how Bergson sees Emergence and chaos theory, what bottom up and top down thinking and approaches bring to us and how tension helps us to innovate and much much more.
Make sure, you also have a look at Michael Foley's books: „The Age of absurdity - why modern life makes it hard to be happy“ "Life Lessons from Bergson" and many more ...
What really keeps me thinking after this episode are two things:
1) How parallel and connected Michael Foley's world of thinking is connected to mine, although coming from totally different angles and professions.
2) How it is possible that a nobel price winner like Henri Bergson is so unknown today, after laying such broad foundations for philosophy, literature, science and much more. Incredible!
Some statements from the interview:
Henri Bergson, his process theory and what it means for modern life, (non)determinism
"The first mistake is to think there is some final way of doing things, that can be quantified and written down“
"It is a different way of looking at things, which doesn’t accept any finality“
"Linear logic is a good way to develop technology but not helpful in understanding human situations and human systems“
Emergence and Chaos Theory: Is emergence crawling or also big bumps? Emergence and it’s meaning for agile. Emergence and innovation. The meaning of randomness and serendipity in innovation.
"We accidentally developed consciousness, which is our great blessing and our great curse.“
"We only recently understood the principle behind it (emergence), which is the feedback loop and the feedback loop is one of the most important concepts ever discovered in the 20th century“
"And the beauty of it is: it’s so simple“
"Everything goes round in a circle, there is no linear cause and effect“
"Life is the constant creation of the absolutely new, the unpredictable, the unrepeatable“
"Success and failure are emergent feature, I think. … What people like to think is that they control success and failure: when people succeed they think it’s due to their own effort. When they fail, they put it down to bad luck or fate or someone else’s fault.“
"The genius idea is to suddenly connect two things that haven’t been connected.“
Bottom up vs. top down: properties of approaches and combining them via feedback loops to create great systems
"It is a general tension, there is good things and bad thing about both“
"Basically everything started bottom up, through evolution“
"The internet is a great example for it (the interaction of bottom up and top down) "Bottom up is creative, imaginative, energetic … but it has no direction“
"Top down is very good for discipline and control and direction, but it has no energy or imagination - it tends to become fixed“
"Populism is the bottom asserting its energy“
"A mistake of bottom up is to think that anything new must be better“
"Flattery is the most important management tool“
"The bad news, again, is that people think flattery is easy … it is an art“ "Flattery is jut a tool, it doesn’t mean people are good or bad.“
Tension is good for innovation; Tension and facilitation and much more
"Tension is what’s happening between top down and bottom up, for example“
"I think tension can be a creative force, providing the people can hold the tension in balance without trying to suppress the other parties.“
"... (if out of balance that can lead) to a violent relationship. so what you want is harmonious tension. Hard to achieve, though“
"Justice and merci, the demands of the individual / the demands of others, there is no answer to these things. They are tensions. they can be creative tensions if we hold them together and understand them and try not to let the one dominate the other too much. The trick is to hold them in tension“
Process thinking and fun & comedy; petrification; Paying attention a means against getting petrified; Urge for the next thing, FOMO, Silo and specialisation as features of top down thinking.
"Of course, it’s difficult. But then, everything is difficult. Life is meant to be difficult.“
"Philosophy is just about learning“ A
re products meant to make things easy? Easy vs. experience.
"… there is that tendency today that experience is about doing something new, going somewhere new, finding new people. We see this constantly in relationships too. People constantly want new people rather than understanding the value in the people they are actually with. So it’s a problem of potential. The world is obsessed with potential.“
"Q: Living in the moment is something we need to practice?
Michael: Yes, but I really got to hate that phrase because it has become such a cliché. We also have to stop using the word mindfulness. … I agree with the principle, totally. But it’s become a cliché.“
"Comedy could become the new mindfulness.“
"My theory is that play is the new fashionable thing, play is the new mindfulness.“
"The paradox is: you can detach in order to engage more“
"The essence of excellence is to make it seem effortless“
"I am working on a book that combines everything, that’ what I want to do. Not just philosophy, but fiction and poetry. … What I want to do is pull them all together in one strange book. … and it’ll never be published because my agent hates it.“
This episode is held in English language. My guest is Jeff Sussna, founder and principal of ingineering.IT. He mainly works in the world of operations and is a well known speaker all over the world in the area of DevOps. Surprisingly, he approaches this field with the tools of Service Design, Cybernetics and Promise Theory.
Using these ways of thinking, he also wrote a great book, „Designing Delivery“, in which describes the role and challenges of companies in the new world where brands and product development are dialogues.
In this conversation, we discuss the following topics:
- Services as a fundamental model of coping with a modern, complex world, in which companies need relationships and conversations with their clients.
- The role of Design Thinking and Service Design
- How Cybernetics can help us understand and decide in situations of complexity and uncertainty
- How the model of Promise Theory helps us deal with systems that sometimes fail or are incomplete and how this again helps us to live with the unavoidable circumstance of failure
- Thinking broad and embracing ambiguity and dealing with that through balance
- Discussions on mindfulness
Beyond all, what I really learned and appreciated in this interview was Jeff's ability to break down complex thoughts in easy to understand small steps, taking nothing as granted. Kind of like a good maths teacher.
0:00:00 - Introduction
0:01:19 - When, how and why did Dev and Ops separated?
0:08:06 - Nostalgie of full stack dev and how we are facing bigger tasks because of the INternet’s success
0:14:01 - Jeff is not on the wrong end of the value chain with his topics, the whole company should embrace them
0:22:25 - Let’s have positiv impact on people, outside and inside of the company
0:28:05 - Is „the family“ and „relationship“ a good metaphor for how we should work?
0:32:58 - Announcement of winners of Give Aways from Episode 1
0:34:27 - Jeff’s Book „Designing Delivery“ and the concept of services, Jobs To Be Done, are physical products easier than digital products?
0:47:09 - Design Thinking and Service Design
0:55:27 - Cybernetics
1:01:04 - Portfolio and Feedbackloops as a Cybernetic Systems
1:02:13 - Promise Theory, embracing failure in computer and human systems, incompleteness of systems (also in maths)
1.11:16 - On thinking beyond, going broad and the power of serendipity
1:14:28 - Amiguity and Balance
1:15:11 - On mindfulness, your reaction defines the outcome, there are no shortcuts