Word 1 - Culture
Why does a culture eat language for breakfast?
(Dedicated with love to my friend Mira Angrist who directs Hebrew studies at Boston University).
Peter Drucker, the father of organizational management, said that "organizational culture eats every strategy for breakfast." And decades have proven him right. I would like to extend this understanding to culture in general.
Culture is the set of values, beliefs and worldviews as they are expressed in the behavior of human beings. A man of culture is a term for a cultured, educated, polite and kind person.
The understanding that culture is more important than any strategy and even more than language, I learned about myself during my years working in China. And this is what Yunfan, our student from China who came to visit us in Seattle, reminded me this week. Yunfan took my course "The structure of scientific innovation" and two events that happened with her in the course, changed my world view.
The first event was when I taught a class about paradigms in science. And I mentioned that even every parent has a perception, some kind of paradigm. For example, all parents want the child to be happy and encourage him to succeed by giving words of encouragement about lessons or drawings. Yunfan asked to speak with me during reception hours, and told me that my very sentence was a paradigm! Because in China, for example, encouraging a child is considered a serious prohibition. The child should understand from a young age that he must improve and that more is expected of him, and if he is encouraged, according to Chinese culture, he will weaken. Contrary to our perception in the West.
The second case was when I answered homework questions. The students read articles and chapters from books for each lesson. And I asked the students to write me a pile of questions, which I would answer during class (to make the material more interesting, I always chose intriguing or "smart" questions). The questions were anonymous, and after I answered, I asked whose question it was. And so, in a way that is not accidental, it turned out that for three consecutive classes I answered mainly questions written by Yonfan (the wise one if I may say so). And again, I was visited during reception hours by Yonfan, who asked me to stop answering her questions. When I asked why, because it's a compliment that I answer her smart questions, she said that in her culture everyone should be given a chance. You have to live in the middle way, and she asks not to stand out.
The Chinese got this concept from Confucianism. This is the "Doctrine of the Mean" or the "Golden Path" (in Chinese, Zhong Yong 中庸). The theory of the average emphasizes the importance of maintaining balance and harmony in all aspects of life. A concept that teaches that people should avoid extremes in behavior, emotion and thought, and instead strive for moderation and balance.
In conclusion, "Culture eats every language and grammar for breakfast". And a lot thanks to Yunfan I understood this sentence.
How do you know what the middle way is?
Looking at the result. For example, in negotiations, this is a way that maximizes the desired result for several parties (what is called Batna). Not just for one person. If you have finished negotiating, even with the children, and only you have a smile on your face, it means that you are not on the path of the golden path.
Word 2 - Initialization
Or: Who knew a car sticker would become a Harvard Medical School membership?
In 1971, a pair of researchers from the University of Michigan Meyer, Schvaneveldt, published an experiment that would become a very significant experiment in understanding human thinking. They showed that presenting one word allows for faster and more accurate identification of the next word if it is related (like doctor-nurse versus doctor-bun). This effect in which two separate processes (recognition of the first word: doctor), and making a decision based on the retrieved information (is the word bun related) operate by semantic associations hinted that the first word is important as it actually builds the stage that will make it possible to connect words and events in memory. The process later is called framing application, and it will be another 30 years before receiving a Nobel Prize for making decisions in situations of uncertainty that is also influenced by framing (Kahneman).
The subject of framing is fundamental in any systematic practice. Both the surgeons and the pilots have a priming process called debriefing: briefing and debriefing. Before performing an operation or a flight, they will talk about what will be in the mission, and after that they will analyze what worked well and what didn't. I also took the principle of framing into the focus of people, which is carried out in the "Tilman Walk", a walk whose purpose is to understand what your next goal is (see the "Parallel Universe" course).
I realized about myself and my body how much this priming works like magic.
In 1998 I attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgery in Boston, a meeting attended by 7000 surgeons from all over the world.
During one of the breaks, I signed up for a trip to the famous courtyard of Harvard University in Cambridge, and of course, as is the local custom, I also rubbed the shiny shoe of the statue of John Harvard in the university courtyard, which is a guarantee to return to the place.
In the souvenir shop I even bought a "Harvard Medical School" sticker. This sticker stood proudly on my office desk, and every time a patient entered the operating room and asked me why I didn't stick the sticker on the car, I replied with a smile, "He is patiently waiting for a Volvo in Boston and my appointment as a faculty member at Harvard University."
Of course, I didn't have Boston in mind at the time, just a silly sentence I made up.
So it turns out that such sentences are not nonsense. They are framing incarnate, the initialization of an idea.
This "nonsense" came true exactly 5 years later.
I also came to Harvard to study, also Boston, also Volvo, and also an academic appointment at Harvard University.
How to practice framing?
It is best to start with the habit you want to impart. For example, exercise at three in the morning. Framing is arranging the video on YouTube with the propaganda already the night before (first framing), and putting on the gym shoes at the entrance to the room (second framing). Two "applications" that will help with any new habit.
Word 3 - Biomimicry
Or: How to become innovative inspired by nature
Biomimicry is a process of learning and imitating nature to create sustainable and innovative solutions to various human challenges.
This Monday, April 3, I am lecturing at Tel Aviv University on business metamorphosis.
This is the flagship program for business consulting Ours, Metamorphosis, and the strategy was developed by the Academy for Bio-Innovation Inspired by Nature.
On Monday, we will present at the gathering success stories of our clients: universities, interior design offices, a business in the field of attention disorders, research laboratories, and more, who have achieved organizational growth with the help of the metamorphosis model. The lecture will detail the "Metamorphosis" program (HTMRA), where we will see how choosing a process in nature (spinning spider webs, fractals, caterpillar and cocoon, and others) enabled exponential growth for businesses and universities.
Our model is based on only two assumptions: nature has solutions, and principles from Confucius' philosophy on learning and growth.
It turns out that having one picture of nature (for example of an eel) can be more effective than any detailed business plan that you sit on for a year. And by the way, it also connects to the framing we mentioned above.
In conclusion, innovation through biomimicry requires patience, creativity and a deep understanding of nature. By carefully observing nature's strategies and applying them to human challenges, sustainable and innovative solutions can be developed that benefit both people and the planet.
How to practice inspiration from nature?