There are a lot of people who think I’m very smart. I’m never sure that I agree, though. I mean, I like being told that I’m smart (doesn’t everybody?), but deep down I have an insecurity about it, which is rooted in the basic fact that I can only think a problem so far before I have to act on it; and acting on that problem may or may not solve it to anyone’s satisfaction… least of all mine.
Moreover, all real problem-solving is social. It’s not achieved through announcements or declarations of good intent, or bosses standing menacingly and offering difficult threats. It’s solved through people of good-will agreeing to work together to achieve something from their wide ranges of skills, talents, abilities and mindsets. So while MakerFaire was really cool, and all the machines and gadgets were amazing… to teach kids broad-based problem-solving, requires something more.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that a team of people can think the pants off of me, and kick me to the curb, every time. Tonight, a colleague and I developed what I think is a tremendously interesting design challenge for November 3, 2012, during the weekend before the election. I’d come up with an OK idea, which would have worked, but poorly, had I actually been able to implement it. BUT… But…. but… there were lots of reasons it wouldn’t work.
And so I did what any sensible designer would do. I invited a knowledgable, smart, capable colleague to dinner tonight, and I treated. And I asked… humbly… for help. My colleague — who had no reason to invest even a moment’s thought in this program, uninvested in it as she is — had the brilliant idea on how to really make it work, and make it a powerful learning opportunity for adults and kids alike.
And in my mind, she’s the hero of this story. Because she found the pieces that made something work amazingly well, that before would have functioned only haphazardly. If the program goes anywhere, it will be her doing.
Never forget that two heads are better than one, and the two right heads unlock and open doors like mad. And, if you’re a designer, bow before that wisdom, and give full credit there, because it’s due.