Rock, Paper.

I remember that as small children we never played ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ -simply because we’d never heard of it. This was the 1960′s, see, when TV showed grainy pictures in black and white and broadcasts were made only for a short part of the day; probbaly these things combined to slow the impact of US culture on British kids.

Now we didn’t know (or care) that those things were holding us back, and simply played with the toys that came to hand. However we grew up to echoes of parental coaxing “If you ever want to BE something, you have to work harder!”
And naturally we didn’t reconsider that line…we accepted the received wisdom or fatalism of the age,
the ‘shit happens’ school of thought, where you either -A- tried your hardest, and that might (only ‘might’) be enough; or -B- you would fail.

But across the Pond, one rebellious American professor was already famous for asking ‘Wwhy can’t we do things differently?’ and coming up with surprising and effective answers…his name was Russell Ackoff, and years later he wrote of a third way (no, not political rhetoric, but a different worldview of problems). In ‘The Art of Problem Solving’, Ackoff argued for a distinct third approach to problems, not to attempt to merely reduce them and settle for an fair fix; but to Dissolve or wholly remove them.

His third way was a powerfully different approach, every bit as radical as yet-unseen new products like colour TV; Doctor Who with a detailed plot and dialogue; or personal computers would have been to the ignorant, happy urchins of a Cheshire town. Whilst we would have welcomed more and better telly, Ackoff’s legacy has since expanded our take on life; instead of playing ‘Rock, Paper’ we now have three options -and the Scissors wins!

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