What can facilitators learn from Steve Jobs?


August 26th, 2011

Here’s some quotes from Steve Jobs on design:

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. [Wired, February 1996]

Seems to me we facilitators can learn a lot from this. Facilitation isn’t just about taking a tried and true process and using it yet again, because it worked just fine last time. It’s about connecting dots, it’s about seeing a way a group can relate to each other and to a problem in a way they might not have considered before.

Facilitation is a creative act. We need to draw inspiration from diverse sources, and continually design new ways of supporting creativity, innovation and agility. Otherwise we’ll wake up one day and find the world has moved on and left us behind.

2 Comments so far

  1. Laura Hsu on August 31, 2011 6:26 pm

    Thank you Viv!
    This is very helpful view point. I am getting ready to teach an Appreciative Inquiry for Leaders and the capacity to do the 3rd D is the capacity to facilitate his/her group to design visible/invisible elements for positive change.
    Beyond just doing a provocative proposition, the design thinking that Steve Jobs talked about is the key to sustain a new way of being.

  2. Viv McWaters on August 31, 2011 7:45 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for dropping by 🙂 Good luck with the AI – they couldn’t be in better hands!
    Cheers, Viv

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