Look around you. And then explore, analyse and establish. Can you see the design floors?
A design floor is the ultimate and fundamental design flaw. Individually, design flaws are often simple to identify and, with the right tools, rectify – at least in part. Perfection is an asymptotic concept; striving for constant improvement will get you closer and closer without ever actually arriving. Don’t be fooled though, design flaws can be persistent, ingrained and resistant to change. Flawless is a nonsensical objective but ‘flaw less’ can be attained.
But the design floor might appear impossible to overcome, for it must be achieved through revolution rather than evolution. Design floors can’t be tinkered with, they must be tossed out! A design floor is the foundation on which a program, policy or pursuit is based, a foundation that allows certain things and constrains or eliminates other things.
Floors are low, not deep; when you think about it, floors can be viewed as a shield against the deep. And low is close to the lowest common denominator, low is close to shallow and low is very close to face validity. Low is about appearance rather than substance, low is about the bottom rather than the deep and the deep is the only way to get to the top.
Foundations can be strong but this needs effort, insight and persistence. Foundations can be weak and this just requires disinterest and a willingness to tolerate the design floor; despite these weaknesses, things often keep rolling on:
It’s another fundamental choice in experiential learning and behavioural change. Will you tolerate design floors and pretend that things are as good as they can be? Or will you actively work to rectify design flaws and realise that things can be better than they are?
The last ‘Slow Down Sunday’ post had a strong numerical theme; ‘tis nobler thought numbers could feature in this post to explore some fundamental themes in experiential learning and behavioural change.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10.
That’s arithmetic – in experiential learning and behavioural change, you’ll use much more sophisticated mathematics without really being aware of it. And you’ll do this even if you think you’re no good at maths. In the artificial world of the classroom, you might struggle with maths but, in the real world of learning and changing, you’re a maths wizard!
10 > 1 +2 +3 +4.
That’s synergy, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Life and learning are not additive pursuits. When you devote effort to the 1s, 2s 3s and 4s (etc), this experience produces something that is greater, more elegant, more effective and more efficient. Mindlessly following a recipe is a recipe for ‘disaster’. Transcend the mechanical.
2 + 2 = 4, NOT 5, 6, 3.5 or any other number suggested by someone else to satisfy specific circumstances.
That’s a reflection of values. While mathematics is the one absolute and universal discipline, undisciplined or expedient behaviour can be applied to mathematics and, more broadly, the scientific method, to distort the truth. Thinking, saying or doing ‘calculations’ in which 2 + 2 = 5 is the slipperiest of all slippery slopes. Stay true and stay truthful, for numbers don’t lie:
Finally, remember that any number (and the distance between any two numbers) equals infinity. Apparently straightforward tasks possess depth and complex tasks have great depth. It just doesn’t make sense to think that you can skate over the surface and cope with all the challenges.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10. But there are infinite ways to get to 10.
The last paragraph says it all: “The task that faces us is no different from the one that has always faced human beings – renewing our lives in the face of recurring evils. Happily, the end never comes. Looking to an end-time is a way of failing to cherish the present – the only time that is truly our own”.