One man’s magic…

Photo Credit: erix! via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: erix! via Compfight cc

is another man’s engineering said the American sci fi author Robert A Heinlein.

I was reminded of this last week when I sat in on a webinar with Harold Jarche and Carrie Basham Young about Making Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) a success. I was looking at it through the L&D lens (obviously) and there was some great conversation both in the webinar and the accompanying twitter chat that have prompted some thinking. These have included adoption of ESN, assumed practice and the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstance to make ESN work.

What interested me most was a comment that Carrie made where she was talking about ROI of ESN and referenced a phrase I’d forgotten; the clothesline paradox.

First coined by Stephen Baer in 1975, the clothesline paradox was his explanation about measurement of the value of solar energy. Take some wet clothes and they can be hung on a washing line to dry.  Alternatively, they can be put into a tumble dryer and they’ll also dry. In the latter example we can measure the energy to produce the tumble dryer, the cost of the design, the time to produce, the energy to work it and the time it takes to dry the clothes. In the former example, we can’t.

Does this value the tumble drying more? If we can measure something does it mean more?

Going back over the 50 big ideas which I posted last time, I was surprised by how many of them are about creating environments, extending clotheslines, warming a space, allowing freedom of movement.

So, a few questions:

  • If you have a washing line, do you need to continually update your tumble dryer?
  • Does not having a tumble dryer put you at a disadvantage?
  • Is this a problem that learning technology suppliers have – how to sell us a more efficient tumble dryer?
  • Does knowing which clothes dry best in which circumstances make THAT much of a difference?

Comments, as always, very welcome. Normal service resumed.

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7 responses to “One man’s magic…

  1. Another thought provoking piece. Continuing the analogy – using the appropriate drying method for the clothing is key as this impacts the quality of the output and thus any further input or effort…. e.g. ironing!

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