Culture

On building a culture of candid debate

A good blueprint for [building a culture of candid debate] can be found in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s battle-plan briefing to top officers of the Allied forces three weeks before the invasion of Normandy. As recounted in Eisenhower, a biography by Geoffrey Perret, the general started the meeting by saying, “I consider it the duty of anyone who sees a flaw in this plan not to hesitate to say so. I have no sympathy with anyone, whatever his station, who will not brook criticism. We are here to get the best possible results.”

Eisenhower was not just inviting criticism or asking for input. He was literally demanding it and invoking another sacred aspect of military culture: duty. How often do you demand criticism of your ideas from your direct reports?

From Gary P. Pisano in The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures

The Arrival of the Stupendous

We can be forgiven for not noticing, but the world changed not long ago. Sometime after the academics gave up complaining about the apparent commercialization of the internet, and while Wall Street was licking it’s wounds after the first internet boom went bust, the world changed. Around the time we realized that over 200 million […] » about 400 words

Highways

Think now of the US interstate highway system. Like the internet that followed, the highway system was the subject of much hype and conjecture. Most notably, Norman Bel Geddes’ -designed General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York Word’s Fair. In it we saw magical highways connecting our cities, and whisking motorists from New […] » about 300 words

Social Geography: Common Census

CommonCensus Map Project: The CommonCensus Map Project is redrawing the map of the United States based on your voting, to show how the country is organized culturally, as opposed to traditional political boundaries. It shows how the country is divided into ‘spheres of influence’ between different cities at the national, regional, and local levels. tags: […] » about 100 words

Beloit College’s List Of Things That Make Us Look Old To Incoming Students

We’ve seen lists like this before. Beloit College in Beloit Wisconsin releases their “Mindeset List” for their incoming class every year around now. The point is to remind us how cultural touchstones change over time. It does that, but it also give us (me, anyway) a good chuckle. It’s worth reading all the way down […] » about 900 words