Nika's Blog

Radical Simplicity

This Visual Assembly is a breathtaking undertaking. Healers & patients will collaborate to fix Places of Healing—and stamp their best plans in front of a hospital!

Nika said we should aim for radical simplicity. Yes, I’m on board with that. I’m not an artist like her, but build software. I don’t see it as Art, but as User Interface. High art intimidates most people, but one of our great User Interface books is: “Badass: Making Users Awesome.”

So how do we give Awesome Badasses powers to improve their lives?

As Nika said: radical simplicity. Software projects collapse under complexity. Therefore some of us make a cult of simplicity. “Simple, not easy” we repeat. But through good hard-nosed planning, we can make this Visual Assembly both simple & easy.

First, let’s imagine a much simpler example: organizing dinner at a conference. What could possibly go wrong!? Well, this happened to me:

  • Some of us couldn’t walk so far to the restaurant. So they ordered a taxi. But we didn’t see them at the dinner. Did the taxi never arrive? Did they feel too humiliated to attend? I never found out.
  • We walked in a couple big groups. Some of us got separated at a stoplight; those across the street marched on without looking back. Forcing three of us to rely on an ancient iPhone—with a drained battery.

We live in a world of little details!

Bad news: the Visual Assembly’s more complex. Good news: we can relax and leisurely plan. Our backup plans can have backup plans.

So let’s untangle its components:

  1. People in Groups
  2. Zoom/Internet
  3. Being Outside
  4. Stencil/Spraypaint
  5. Antagonists

Let’s focus on People in Groups. What do we need to do?

  • Nudge people from complaints—to solutions.
  • Elicit ideas from silent people, and limit dominatingly eager ones.
  • Support not just fast thinkers, but also slow profound thinkers.

How might we accomplish these? Perhaps you might want to think of your own solutions for a moment, before reading further.

My own solutions:

  • Brave Beginners: One brave team (of maybe 5 people) goes first. We’ll all watch them move from initial confusion & dysfunction — to Facilitators stenciling their ideas in front of the hospital. Then we breakout into small groups and do likewise.
  • Midwife Stencilers: The facilitators should practice translating ideas into stenciled representations. Nika called them “technicians.” (To avoid them becoming egotistical little Picassos.) I think of them as “midwives,” helping birth people’s ideas.
  • Team Facilitators: Ideally, every breakout team will have a facilitator experienced at coalescing productive, healthy meetings.

My future blogposts will focus on other components.

In conclusion, by untangling the Visual Assembly’s components, imagining What Could Go Wrong, then finding solutions—I believe we’ll succeed in supporting Awesome World-Changing Badasses.

3 replies on “Radical Simplicity”

I would suggest that one of the most important artists of our time is Richard Stallman. His open-source GNU license showed how to build communism, not in a particular country, but to spread it around the world.

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