The 'Right' Thing
1967 was an exciting time for Canada
We were celebrating our 100th birthday, which for many countries, wasn’t that old, but for us it was monumental.
Everybody got in on the party.
Bobby Gimby’s song ‘Canada’ turned into the most insidious earworm in Canadian history. (For those of you Canadians alive with any kind of cognitive memory in 1967, here is the song in all its glory).
The bright minds of the day were even able to arrange to host the World’s Fair – Expo 67 in Montreal that year.
The whole point of a World’s Fair, aside from the party, is to showcase the wonder of the world, and to look forward to the future.
The centerpiece of Expo 67 was a geodesic dome, called the biosphere.
Aside from being the result of some very confusing mathematics, it represented a different way to look at architecture.
The geodesic dome was the brainchild of an architect named R. Buckminster Fuller, or ‘Bucky’ for short.
In my young mind (I was just a whelp then), the dome was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.
I decided that Bucky was brilliant.
Skip along a few years.
I was a bit more than a whelp. I was a wet behind the ears kid working in an engineering office, getting frustrated that while we were designing things and systems to keep people safe, people were bypassing our systems.
It was frustrating.
People weren’t stupid. We weren’t stupid.
But for some reason, they weren’t doing it the ‘right’ way.
They were doing the ‘wrong’ things.
They weren’t benefiting from our brilliance. (Okay, I was a bit cocky too.)
So we continued to get frustrated.
One day, I came across a quote attributed to someone named R. Buckminster Fuller.
Perhaps it was because the quote came from a hero that I paid attention, but the more I thought about it, the more brilliance I saw in that quote.
The few words in that had the power to change my perspective, as well as influence practically every design decision I’ve made since then.
They have influenced how I approach leadership.
They come to mind every time people bypass the ‘system’.
Bucky, in all his brilliance said:
“Don’t expect people to do the ‘right’ thing...
What YOU have to do, is make the ‘right’ thing the easiest thing to do.”
Of course... People, like water will take the path of least resistance.
If you design systems that re too complex, they will find a way to creatively bypass them, or not use them at all.
If you create rules that are onerous or (let's face it) stupid, then don't be surprised if people don't obey them.
Find a way to make the 'right' thing, the easiest thing to do.
For me, it also showed the phenomenal power of well-chosen words to influence people.
Think about that the next time you want to influence others to do the ‘right’ thing.
Make it easy.
Portrait By en:User:Edgy01 (Dan Lindsay) - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21923730
Biosphere – Expo 67 By Cédric THÉVENET, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95030
About the Author:
I’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.
I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.
In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee (www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.
I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk