FORDLANDIA

A80pxtree colleague passes the desk and can’t resist commenting on the apparent chaos. Quick as a flash, comes the reply,

It may look untidy, but I know where everything is’ .

We all know someone like that. Apparent chaos, high function.

Yet the pressure to tidy it all up never recedes, does it?

There have been many casual, unchallenged, mentions of ‘best practice’ this week.
So many, that I wonder whether this is just another way of expressing that wish to to impose an apparent visual order, to make uniform what had been varied.

‘Best practice’ is about control as well as excellence.

One famous example of attempting to impose successful, garlanded and ordered ways of doing things on an apparently hopelessly chaotic context is Henry Ford’s foray into rubber production in the late 1920s.  What had worked (spectacularly) in Michigan would work in…the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Of course. (The cars needed tyres, the rubber market had become a monopoly..go do it)

But just because something looks chaotic doesn’t mean it is. And imposing order can destroy complicated interrelationships.

There were options for Mr Ford. He could have spent time understanding how life, climate, biology, culture currently worked and invest in acceleration and support; or he could take every detail (entire housing estates, factories, hospitals, schools were built to the US model in Aveiro) and transplant and superimpose them wholesale.
It failed. Of course it did.

It’s worth checking.

Best practice? Or Fordlândia?

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