Re: Are best practices standards?

Subject: Re: Are best practices standards?
From: Arlen P Walker <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 11:51 -0500

>It seems to me that if you want a creative environment it needs to be free.

I've heard this argument before. Trouble is, there's no such thing. No
envronment is totally free; a free environment simply doesn't exist. We are all
bound by constraints: physiological, psychological, technological, and
organizational. And we can't even make the statement that fewer constraints
lead to more creativity, because that relationship is a "sometimes" thing.
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Steven Hawking is bound by far more
constraints than I am, but it's seriously brain-damaged to assert that I'm more
creative than he is. The discussion shouldn't be about where to draw the lines,
not whether to draw them at all.

What your process focuses on is more important than how narrowly it focuses.
Most good web design shops, for example, have a strong process in place for
building sites. The steps of this process are generally quite well defined, yet
the output from this process is individually tailored for the client's purposes
and, dare I say it, creative. The process clears away the deadwood, enabling
the creatives to focus on the important development issues. That's the way
processes aid creativity.

Processes hinder creativity when they dictate the actions, not the approach.
James Michener had a highly structured approach to writing a novel; most
writers do. Yet that doesn't get int he way of their writing a very creative
book. When a process dictates the result of the approach, rathere than the
approach itself, then it hinders creativity. (This is not necessarily a Bad
Thing. Back when auto designers were being creative about steering mechanisms
and pedal arrangements, it was difficult and dangerous to drive a different
car; you didn't know where the brake pedal might be, for example. Now the
steering mechanism has been standardized as a wheel and the pedal arrangement
is that same on all cars, it has become easier and safer to move from car to

>I am not an art historian
>but I am 99% certain that the masters of art and science who changed human
>perception of the universe did not write up an exquisite analysis process
>before they went to work.

I'm not an art historian, either, but speaking from the scientific end, most of
those who changed the world didn't write up "an exquisite analysis process."
They didn't have to; one had already been written up, all they had to do was
follow it. Edison, Einstein, Bell, Morse: what they did was unique and
original, but how they did it was completely conformal and old-fashioned.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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