Form or Function?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Form or Function? How about Form and Function?

The eternal fight between form and function. Between show and effectiveness. Between being followed by a herd with questionable loyalty, and walking with a small group with unwavering conviction in your vision.

Here’s a fancy looking video by HBX, Harvard‘s online programs platform. Professor Christensen undoubtedly sounds like someone I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to interact with and learn from. But the fact that even the likes of Harvard need movie-like videos to showcase the capabilities of a brilliant mind in order to sell a course, is a reflection of the superficial and attention-deficit times we live in.

Another rather painful habit is the one followed by the likes of Business Insider quite often. Apart from some very interesting articles, they also tend to hype the hell out of some random topic, using a catchy title and snippet. You’re tempted to click on it, only to find some absolutely boring or obvious view or reason about the story behind the title.

I for one, now actively avoid any such catchy but vague sounding snippet or title.

And then there are posts like Seth Godin‘s. No images, which, as per recent social media strategy “gurus”, would be nothing short of criminal. Experts will tell you how a picture is worth a thousand words. How a video would be so much more impactful. And some might even ask you to throw in a quote or two. And not just any quotes, but quotes quoted by..You! (what works better than bragging anyway, right?)

And while it is nothing short of an honour, when someone quotes you; there are few things as ridiculous as quoting yourself. Or asking your friends and industry colleagues to quote you. But that still goes on. So even if some of you can’t stop asking people to quote you, at least refrain from quoting yourself. That’s like walking up to your polling booth during election time, and asking for an option to vote yourself Prime Minister or President.

Coming back to Seth’s posts. They don’t have any images, and at barely 2-4 paragraphs, are far crisper and always impactful. Compare that with some standard blog analytics tools that give a red alert when you haven’t typed in a “minimum 300 words”. His posts are pure gold. They don’t need the crutches of pictures, videos, fancy or titillating titles or quotes or anything else to support them. They simply urge you to reflect, to question, and to improve.

And that’s what is lacking in the world today. We are becoming increasingly about cheaper, attention-grabbing tactics; and lesser about quality, long-term effectiveness.

***

Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Function, Form, and Overripe Apples

Reading Time: 1 minute

Image: source

Over the decades, we have been seeing Apple grow at a blistering pace. Built on thinking different while staying hungry and foolish, it certainly created new sectors while killing redundant ones. With unwavering customer-focus, Apple maintained child-like curiosity, unbelievable innovation, and startup agility. The brand continues to enjoy a stronger following than even some religious cults.

The iPhone surely leaves little to be desired in terms of image/video quality, physical design, appearance and accessories. Yet, with each new iPhone that is launched, its key features have long been available on Android phones. Or it has features that are easily copied (for whatever they’re worth) by up-and-coming mobile phone manufacturers.

In design, one of the guiding rules is of form ideally following function.

So, the big question is, has Apple permanently lost its startup like agility and freshness? More importantly, how long will it retain its cult following purely on form, if function continues to lag behind?

Would love your thoughts on this.
Feel free to share your views. I will revert at the earliest. And if you liked this post, do follow or subscribe to my blog (top right of the page) for similar topics that encourage reflection and discussion. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Chip Off the Old Block

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Chip Off the Old Block

Renaissance artist Michelangelo claimed that his job was to free the human form trapped inside the block. His words, apparently were:

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and in action.  I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

Moses by Michelangelo

Moses by Michelangelo

I see a great similarity between sculpting and writing. In both, you start with a thought or purpose in mind that must be conveyed to a particular audience. Then begins the task of writing and chipping away to make a final piece that then gets the reaction that is often proportional to the clarity of the initial ‘thought’ of what had to be conveyed, and the efforts taken to ‘chip away’ to arrive at it. A slightly different move with the chisel [or pen] can create something completely different from what was planned, sometimes better, sometimes worse.

Blaise Pascal beautifully captured some of that in a sentence when he said “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” A very interesting contradiction, where one would normally assume that longer or bigger looking tasks and thoughts would automatically take more time and effort, where as it is usually the most simple ones that take much longer and way more effort.

Let’s get back to the profound yet simple perspective of Michelangelo’s. I believe it finds application in any area of work or life too. It is about seeing clearly, things as you want them to be, or as they should ideally be. It could be about initiating a change in culture at work. Or about conceptualizing and developing of a product.Maybe even about how you’d like your career or an important relationship to shape out in the long run. 

Once you can visualize that, then comes the simple part of chipping away the extra bits. Everything unnecessary that stands between how things are and how they should be. If you are not seeing the objective or destination first, you are not really going anywhere.

***

Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.