'morning folks! I'm back in black, so to speak (just served myself some fresh brewed coffee as a sunday afternoon treat).

I'm reading the excellent book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor your wetware, and so far the best tip of insight I've had is this: Context Matters.

It doesn't matter whether you're developing software, painting, driving, writing.. whatever you do, it'll be influenced by the environment, heavily. Your mood will be different if the weather is not right, if you're working in a cubicle farm, if music is not appropriate, if the tools are not easy to use, etc.. All of that stuff influences our R-Mode brain, the part of the brain that deals with humour, patterns, interrelations. It doesn't matter if your L-Mode brain (the logical, analytic part) is powerful, it'll be hampered by the other part.

Some time ago, scientists believed that neurogenesis couldn't happen in humans. The amount of neurons of our brains was fixed, and could only decrease as we get older. Today, they think it's the opposite that's true.

Why did they believe that? Well, the experiments showed exactly that. No neurogenesis, but also the death of existing neurons. But.. those experiments were performed on rats captive in cages. There was no sensory stimulation that could encourage and allow the growth of new neurons and connections between them. Now take that knowledge, and apply it to the cubicle farms that were so popular in the 90's. Pretty horrible, isn't it?

If you haven't watched "Office Space" stop reading and go watch it
(if you need an extra incentive, Jennifer Anniston is in that movie)

Today, some of the enterprises understand this. Take Google for example, and the environment they use to nurture creativity in their employees. Regrettably, some do not embrace this kind of positive work environment, and treat their software developers as assets that are interchangeable and resemble something quite similar to an orange that you can squeeze in order to get the juice out of it (Colmena IT, I'm looking at you).

This topic is also related with the mark of the expert: Create an environment where intuition could breed, and you may develop experts. Create an environment where there are only rules to be followed, and you've wasted all of the potential that experts could bring to your enterprise. Experts work from intuition. Novices work from rules and guidelines. Take care of the experts, and treat novices as such, but allow them to grow so they become experts.

Comments (2)

On March 8, 2010 at 3:19 AM , Unknown said...

Es como vos decís. Fijate como se organizan las aulas en una escuela... Foucault te puede dar un indicio ;-) Ahora mas alla de la cuestion de un estudiado diseño el habitat, en el caso concreto de los "monstruos" de Silicon Valley tenes que pensar que el diseño de las oficinas repercute (mas de lo que uno cree) en el NYSE y el Nasdaq.

PD: en "category" pone Arquitectura!! :-P

On March 8, 2010 at 7:11 AM , Néstor Daniel Altamirano said...

Siempre me olvido de poner la categoría XD.. y ahora que lo mencionás, si, la arquitectura es fundamental. Está muy bueno esto de lo vea alguien de otra disciplina totalmente diferente y observe que estamos hablando de lo mismo. Ahí la agregué.
Tengo pendiente de seguir leyendo "Vigilar y castigar", los threads de libros en proceso son muchos ya.. :P

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