According to my wife Lori, Harvard isn’t kidding when it hands out “B.S.” degrees yesterday. She is convinced that one of the essential life skills the institution tutors is the art of “bullsh*tting”. She has spent a lifetime now with me and my alumni friends witnessing our ability and willingness to pontificate on subjects that we know little about (witness this blog). While genuine “BS” has a more malicious intent (a deliberate use of misinformation to achieve one’s end), I do think that Lori is onto a quality fostered by the university – the ability to make speculative conjectures and observations on topics based on limited information. In short, intellectual exploration.
Certainly, relative to the abundant boffin peers surrounding you at all times at the school, one would be forgiven for feeling that one never knew anything about anything. And yet, the institution, with its Lowellian dining-centric House-system, promotes a crucible of dialogue and exchange of ideas as a cornerstone to the education one gets there.
Some people feel that you need to study and perfect a domain knowledge or specialty skill before even considering using it. Just like the system engineers who pursue the elusive perfect design or architecture before embarking on a single line of code. But modern agile approaches advocate the iterate-and-improve ethos of innovation. As Hugh describes…
- “Neuroscience folks tell us that behavioral change comes from repetition. If behaviors lead to outcomes, then why not just “fake” it till you make it? Fake that golf stroke, fake that harmonious relationship. Fake your cooking skills. Eventually, you’ll get the change you want.”
The improvisational approach evokes both Godin’s “Start with Sucking” and Adams’ “Ordinary Super Powers” (of embracing embarrassment). And there is nothing that will refine your perspective on and knowledge of a subject than having someone else poke big holes through your opinions.