"Not everyone understands what a completely rational process this is, motorcycle maintenance. They think it's some kind of 'knack' or some kind of 'affinity for machines' in operation. They are right, but the knack is almost purely a process of reason, and most of the troubles are caused by what old time radio men called a 'short between the earphones,' failure to use the head properly. A motorcycle functions entirely with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself." [Page 98]
Our team at Autodesk is called Strategic Foresight. Our team helps identify and articulate long-term forces of change and their implications to reveal insights shaping the future for Autodesk customers. Our team informs strategy across the entire company. We work with Autodesk leaders to help shape a preferable future that delivers value for our customers and our business. We explore a broad range of areas (e.g., society, technology, economy, environment, politics) with a long-term focal length (~10 years). Autodesk has to be prepared to provide the right kinds of solutions for our customers by leveraging opportunities that the future will bring while mitigating potential risks to designing and making.
Nobody expects Strategic Foresight!* Our chief weapon is surprise. We aim to avoid surprise for customers and create surprise for competitors. Actually, our chief weapons are thought leadership, foresight, and storytelling.
Thought Leadership - We bring in outside thought leaders to augment our own thoughts when developing points of view on emerging technologies or topics where positions have not yet been established. We do this by developing a network of visiting fellows, key members of the Autodesk community, and outside influencers. We drive advocacy and influence by bringing together this network and co-creating points of view.
Foresight - We look systematically at the future and facilitate active discussions to help Autodesk determine possible and preferable future directions. We identify and analyze weak signals and forces of change to surface future opportunities and threats and to inform assumptions behind company and industry strategy.
Storytelling - We provide expertise to help Autodesk's leaders engage our customers in dialog that explains our vision of helping everyone image, design, and make a better world. We build a set of methods that help apply storytelling expertise systematically and help Autodesk build storytelling muscle on a common methodology and vocabulary.
Because Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance defines two types of quality:
|Type||Approach Applied to Make Judgments||Type of Appeal||Basis for Judgment||Timeframe Considered|
|Classical||breaking a thing down into hierarchical structures, labeling them, and defining the relationships among the parts||Logical||Underlying Form[16,19,27]||Past, Present, and Future[31,33]|
|Romantic||appreciate the nature of a thing as a whole[3,30]||Emotional||Appearance||Present[8,18,32]|
our boss gave several members of our team a copy of the book as a holiday gift. Because our team has to consider preferable futures for our customers in terms of both classical and romantic quality, our assignment was to read it over the holidays, and we will discuss it at the end of this month.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a philosophy book disguised as an autobiography about a man who travels across the country with his son on the back of his motorcycle. The father-son duo is accompanied by another motorcycle-riding couple on part of the journey. They meet interesting characters along the way. During the solitude of travel is when the author conjures up the content for the book. Maintaining the motorcycle to face the challenges of the road is a metaphor for selecting a philosophy to live by.
Here are some lessons that were affirmed for me by the book:
Quality is the result of materials used, process followed, and the person performing the work. The three are inseparable.[11,12,21,22,26]
Although quality is normally determined by accomplishment and impact, the process behind the work is of equal importance.[2,10,14]
Problem solving is attained by making an observation and determining its cause or by hypothesizing a cause and finding observations to support it.[1,5,6,13,20,23,24]
Quality is attained only when both the classical and the romantic definitions of quality are met.[4,7,15]
I say affirmed instead of learned because Robert Pirsig wrote Zen in 1974. Although it's the most widely read philosophy book ever published and a lot of its concepts were novel at the time, they have crept into the culture some 45 years later and are now widely adopted. I doubt you find any of my affirmations surprising. As I said, our chief weapon is not surprise but thought leadership, forecasting, and storytelling. We want to provide our customers with an excellent user experience, a romantic quality endeavor, by developing software using an agile process, a classical quality undertaking. By looking to the future, we can help Autodesk help our customers take advantage of opportunities and avoid trouble with regard to designing and making. After all, pondering the future is our inquisition.
Striving to provide Quality for Autodesk customers is alive in the lab.
Footnotes from the Blog Post
Quotes from the Book
- "There's no reason why it shouldn't start. It's a brand new machine, I'm following the instructions perfectly. See, it's right on full choke like they say." [Page 20]
- "John was worried Sylvia would not be up to the discomfort of [the long motorcycle ride] and planned to fly her to Billings, Montana, but Sylvia and I talked him out of it. I argued that physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. You fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause." [Page 27]
- "He isn't interested in what things mean as in what they are." [Page 57]
- "What you've got here, really, are two realities, one of immediate artistic appearance and one of underlying scientific explanation..." [Page 61]
- Two kinds of logic are used, inductive and deductive. Inductive inferences start with the observations of the machine and arrive at general conclusions... Deductive inferences... start with the general knowledge and predict a specific observation. [Page 107]
- "Lateral knowledge is knowledge that's from a wholly unexpected direction, from a direction that's not even understood as a direction until the knowledge forces itself upon one." [Pages 121-122]
- "...there's a theoretic component of man's existence... and an esthetic component of man's existence... and that these never seem to meet. These terms "theoretic" and "esthetic" correspond to... classic and romantic modes of reality..." [Pages 123-124]
- "Kant says that there are aspects of reality which are not supplied by the senses. These he calls a priori. An example of a priori knowledge is time. You don't see time. Neither do you hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it." [Page 132]
- "...the Sanskrit doctrine of Tat tvam asi, 'Thou art that,' which asserts that everything you think you are, and everything you think you perceive are undivided." [Page 143]
- "The statement ' To travel is better than to arrive' comes to mind and stays." [Page 154]
- "...the art of work is just as dependent upon your own mind and spirit as it is upon the material of the machine. That's why you need the peace of mind." [Pages 166-167]
- "Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster." [Page 210]
- "His answer was an old one belonging to a philosophic school that called itself realism. 'A thing exists,' he said, 'if a world without it can't function normally.' If we can show that a world without Quality functions abnormally, then we can show that Quality exists, whether it's defined or not." [Page 215]
- "...by subtracting Quality from a picture of the world as we know it, he'd revealed a magnitude of importance of this term he hadn't known was there. The world can function without it, but life would be so dull as to be hardly worth living. In fact, it wouldn't be worth living. The term worth is a Quality term. Life would be just living without any values or purpose at all." [Page 216]
- "...defining Quality... was an attempt to break the grip of the classical sand sifting mode of understanding and find a point of common understanding between the classic and romantic worlds... Both worlds used the term... It was just that the romantic left it alone and appreciated it for what it was and the classic tried to turn it into a set of intellectual building blocks for other purposes." [Page 222]
- "Scientific materialism, which is commoner among lay followers of scientists than among scientists themselves, holds that what is composed of matter or energy and is measurable by the instruments of science is real." [Page 233]
- "...classic formalism... insists that what isn't understood intellectually isn't understood at all." [Page 234]
- "The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality." [Page 247]
- "The true work of the inventor consists in choosing among combinations so as to eliminate the useless ones, or rather, avoid the trouble of making them, and the rules that must guide the choice are extremely fine and delicate." [Page 267]
- "The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care!" [Page 281]
- "I think that when this concept of peace of mind is introduced and made central to the act of technical work, a fusion of classic and romantic quality can take place at a basic level within a practical working context. I've said you can actually see this fusion in skilled mechanics and machinists of a certain sort, and you can see it in the work that they do. To say that they are not artists is to misunderstand the art... The material and the craftsman's thoughts change together in a progression of smooth, even changes until his mind is at rest at the exact moment the material is right." [Page 296]
- "Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see the serenity at the center of it all." [Page 297]
- "...the commonest setbacks [in motorcycle maintenance] are out-of-sequence, reassembly, intermittent failure, and parts problems. But although setbacks are the commonest gumption traps, they're only the external cause of gumption loss. Time now to consider some of the internal gumption traps that operate at the same time: those that block effective understanding, called 'value traps;' those that block cognitive understanding, called 'truth traps;' and those that block psychomotor behavior, called 'muscle traps.' The value traps are by far the largest and moist dangerous group." [Page 310]
- "When your answer to a test is indeterminate, it means one of two things: that your test procedures aren't doing what you think they are or that your understanding of the context of the question needs to be enlarged." [Page 322]
- "In technical composition, a... distinction exists between physical description and functional description. A complex assembly is best described first in terms of its substances: its subassemblies and parts. Then, next, it is described in terms of is methods: its functions as they occur in sequence. If you confuse physical and functional description, substance and method, you get all tangled up and so does the reader." [Pages 337-338]
- "'Man is the measure of all things.' Yes, that's what he is saying about Quality. Man is not the source of all things as the subjective idealists would say. Nor is he the passive observer of all things, as the objective idealists and materialists would say. The Quality which creates the world emerges as a relationship between man and his experience. He is a participant in the creation of all things. The measure of all things — it fits.." [Page 374]
Quotes from the book related to the definition of Quality
- "A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself." [Page 73]
- "A romantic understanding sees it [the world] primarily in terms of immediate appearance." [Page 73]
- "There is no point at which these visions of reality are unified." [Page 75]
- "Romantic Quality always correlated with instantaneous impressions." [Page 248]
- "Classical Quality always involved multiple considerations that extended over a period of time." [Page 248]
- "Romantic Quality was the present, the here and now of things." [Page 248]
- "Classic Quality was always concerned with more than just the present." [Page 248]
- "Now we had two different kinds of Quality... They were just two different time aspects of Quality, short and long." [Page 248]