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I once gave a talk to Disney executives about "new ways to kill the geese that lay the golden eggs". For example, set up deadlines and quotas for the eggs. Make the geese into managers. Make the geese go to meetings to justify their diet and day to day processes. Demand golden coins from the geese rather than eggs. Demand platinum rather than gold. Require that the geese make plans and explain just how they will make the eggs that will be laid. Etc.
The Parc money came from Xerox, the ARPA money came from DoD via the Cold War, but was unfettered and in the public domain. The most important difference between the "Golden Age" funders and those of today, is that the former didn't confuse responsibility with control -- they were responsible but they knew that the researchers had to control the choice of projects and methods. The funders of today -- most particularly the tech billionaires, but also execs in companies, bureaucrats in DARPA and NSF, etc -- think that they have to control. This winds up with bad choices for goals and projects, and bad processes. The "Golden Age" funders "funded people, not projects".

If "good funding" were to come from the pop culture, I wouldn't turn up my nose at it (nor would any of my past colleagues). The main aim is to make qualitative improvements in the human condition. I think everyone would agree that making a billion dollars does not qualify a person to play professional sports, nor to be a classical violinist. Nor does it qualify a person to be able to direct fundamental research. These are all deep skills that anyone with a billion can learn, but if they don't learn them, then having them deep in the loop is a real problem for progress.
history  research  funding  organization 
15 days ago
The foco (Phil Gyford’s website)
It seems, from what I’ve heard, like a good parallel with trying to make large organisations drastically change their direction and/or ways of working. You can’t rely solely on a few good, enthusiastic people, the foco. You also need existing internal support and readiness, access to plenty of resources, and the ability to appease potential allies who might otherwise find you too scary.
transformation  organization 
15 days ago
Trump’s border wall through the eyes of an architecture critic - LA Times
The slabs in front of me seemed at once the most and least architectural objects I’d ever seen. They were banal and startling, full and empty of meaning. Here were the techniques of Land Art, medieval construction, marketing and promotion, architectural exhibition and the new nativism rolled uncomfortably if somehow inevitably into one.
What the prototypes didn’t resemble, in any practical sense, was a wall. (A swatch of fabric is not a shirt; a lone panel from an umbrella won’t keep you dry when it rains.)
architecture  trump  wall  immigration  politics 
21 days ago
New interior design for Amtrak trains — Quartzy
Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson, who has an ear for customer experience and design systems thinking, will take the helm as Amtrak’s CEO next month.
amtrak  industrialdesign  rail  design 
21 days ago
Why is Southern Rail like an aircraft carrier? - Radix
It was a crucial moment, when civil servants realised they could pay for the outward manifestation – the shiny new trains, the new logos, the timetable or the aircraft carrier – while cutting out all the support infrastructure that would protect it and make it effective.

That is now happening throughout our services, perhaps primarily the result of a lobotomised civil service – who can’t distinguish between the political needs of their masters and reality.
infrastructure  invisible  systems  systemsatscale  systemsthinking  rail  britain  politics  publicsector 
23 days ago
Advice on how to play a gig by Thelonious Monk
Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.

Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!

Always leave them wanting more.

What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!
career  leadership  music 
24 days ago
Remove the legend to become one — Remains of the Day
Nowadays, companies hang flat screen TVs hanging on the walls, all them running 24/7 to display a variety of charts. Most everyone ignores them. The spirit is right, to be transparent all the time, but the understanding of human nature is not. We ignore things that are shown to us all the time. However, if once a month, a huge packet of charts dropped on your desk, with a cover letter summarizing the results, and if the CEO and your peers received the same package the same day, and that piece of work included charts on how your part of the business was running, you damn well paid attention, like any person turning to the index of a book on their company to see if they were mentioned. Ritual matters.
While I tried to create guardrails to preserve formulas linking all the workbooks, everything from locked cells to bold and colorful formatting to indicate editable cells, no spreadsheet survives engagement with a casual user.
amazon  visualization  psychology  corporateculture 
25 days ago
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