PartnerHacker Weekend 09/17: Slum Clearance

A quick recap of the PhD from this week:

Recently published:

Three events!

Real talk for those who want to win!
Get your knowledge on!
THE partner event of the year.

Slum clearance

Check out this mental model from a recent issue of The Flux Collective.

I couldn't stop thinking about how it applies to the complex ecosystems that surround our products.

A good leader can find ways to move these ecosystems forward and help them evolve in productive ways, while letting go of the desire to kill off all the mess and start over.

When a system with some bad properties defies simple fixes, it can be tempting to tear it down and start over again. However, this slum clearance attitude is problematic, both for architects and for residents of the existing system.

For the architect: you look at what people are already doing and it clearly doesn’t meet your minimum standards. Therefore you decide, for the good of all, to demolish it and replace it with something clean and sensible. Something that will lift up everybody involved.

For the resident: you live in a tolerable situation. It’s not great but you’ve learned how to make it work for you. Someone comes along and destroys everything you have but they say it's “for your own good.” The new thing is terrible. You would much rather go back to the old way, despite its limitations.

You’re both wrong.

The high modernist architect is wrong because they don’t try to preserve the value inherent in the existing arrangements. They don’t experiment to make sure that their clean new solution doesn’t just look better but actually works better. They don’t seek the consent of the current inhabitants. Instead they jump straight to imposing their solution.

The (figurative) slum dweller is wrong because they’re holding on so tightly to what they have that they’re blind to what they could gain. They don’t see that a new system could work for them in ways the old one never did. They don’t see that they could be better off. They just see that they’ll have to start from scratch again, which is scary.

The right way to move forward is to work with the existing system, to understand how it works and how people use it. Then architects and residents can work together to design a new system that is an improvement on the old one. This new system should be designed to be implemented in stages so that it can be tested and refined as it goes. And, importantly, the people who will be using the new system should be allowed to further design for emergence so they can keep evolving the system as needs change.
You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.