Thursday, November 29, 2007

Proverbial Emails...

Got an email from a colleague today. After his e-signature, and contact info, was a quote (this seems to be a growing trend). Most of these are trite, but I liked this one, and I hadn't heard it before. Kind of presented my "What sucks? and How can we fix it?" questions in a more zen-like and inspirational way.

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

Being curious, and in one of those procrastination modes (I am grading student work), I decided to Google it. Who said it? When? Why?

And I learned that it is a "Japanese Proverb". That's it. 159,000 hits, and they are all just quotes. Oh, and a few of those tacky motivational posters that are hung on cubicles at crappy companies. No explanation, no sense of when it started getting used. No context. Has it been in use for centuries? Was it the mantra following the Meiji Restoration, as Japan modernized in the 1870s? Were any Japanese generals muttering it as their pilots attacked Pearl Harbor? Did Akio Morita use it in the early days of Sony Corporation?

It is a paradox. In the Google-age, my curiosity can only be partially sated. I can quickly get the information about the quote, but not with context. Information without knowledge. Info-porn. Perhaps this is the nature of proverbs as well. But I hope all the good quotes don't lose their anchors in history as they spawn in the digital streams of the internet. If I ever end up with a good quote, I sure hope it doesn't end up in anonymous email sign offs and tacky posters.

If anyone knows more about this proverb, or can provide some context for its past use, please let me know.

Amy Smith, Frank Devlyn and Intersectional Living

The Medici Effect is a great book about how innovation happens at the intersection of cultures and disciplines. I used it in one of my courses this fall for a section on innovation, and it got good reviews from the students, too. Once you read it, you get more aware of intersectional innovators and situations (see blog link to right--->)

As a multi-tasker (my wife has another word for it, "distracted"), I find that one can use this intersectional stuff as a way to explain weird stuff you do. Like reading several books at the same time (well, I mean concurrently, a chapter in this one, then a few pages in another). Or reading while you listen to NPR. Or while said wife is telling you stuff (no, not really). Seriously, this is important stuff to think about as an entrepreneur, leader or designer. And it has implications for how teams communicate, organizations work, and communities grow.

Great intersectional opportunites this week in Fort Collins. Amy Smith had a great visit (another member of the Honorary BOPreneur Society) and gave a very interesting talk on Monday night. Then Frank Devlyn, past Rotary International president, spoke to our club on Tuesday night. Got quite a few intersectional ideas firing in my head, and many other heads too, from all the buzzing going on among students and friends. Will post a link to Amy's lecture when we get it edited.


Joseph Cone Darnell said...

Could there be a catch 22 in being sticky? If your quote were sticky enough, it's sure to end up on a poster or signature line of an email's the good ones that get flogged around like common...well, quotation.
I've always thought those posters were offensive. Check out
for something equally as offensive, but quite funny.

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