In a World of Constant Change, How Do I Constantly Construct New Lenses Through Which to Make Sense Out of the World?

“People are amazed today at a 2-year-old being able to pick an iPhone and make it work. Okay? Whereas a 50-year-old, many of the executives that I know, or 60-year-olds, feel like they can’t figure this thing out. Or anything new that comes up, they get thunderstruck. Oh, damn it, what do I do now? They have to call for help. There’s no sense of saying well, hold it, let’s just goof around with it a moment, get a feel for it, see how you get out of that problem. And if you can do that, then you don’t feel alienated by these changes. And instead, you start to see how oh, I can figure this kind of stuff out, and I’m beginning to connect the pieces in new ways, and pretty soon I feel like I own this. Because a tremendous sense of learning is, how do I make something personal? How do I bring it in to me as opposed to just things out here? Can I internalize it, can I play with it, make it personal to me? And then I got it for life.” – John Seely Brown

In the short video below, John Seely Brown highlights the importance of play in enabling us to navigate a world of constant change. He also shares some insights on the types of context–from the one-room schoolhouse to cultures that promote reverse-mentorship–that facilitate and harness the potential of play as a source of understanding and innovation.

So it is the kind of the willingness to be able to sit back and just play with something, look at the world as a riddle, see if you can generate epiphanies about these little micro-riddles that come forth, and when you can do that, you start to craft a new set of conceptual lenses. And so the real question is, in a world of constant change, how do I constantly construct new lenses through which then I can pore all kinds of knowledge and make sense out of the world, see how to connect the dots? So this actually has a tremendous amount of play to it, but it also has a fair amount of tinkering into it. It’s kind of working with the system – if you can work with the system abstractly as you do in string theory, but it’s a sense of playing with how do these pieces really come together? It can be casual play, fairly simple stuff, or it can be deep conceptual play. But then you see things kind of lock in. You made that lock-in happen and so suddenly things start to now jell.

play, learn & rethink …


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