(Originally published February 2012)
When computer programers develop a piece of software and publish it, the new product is the latest version. My computer uses the Apple operating system version 10.6.8. Getting the latest release assures the consumer that it is the latest and greatest product available and the culmination of their work. The latest version is also a suggestion of accumulated experience built on the successive versions that preceded it. What happened before version 1?
Otto Scharmer in his book “Theory U” describes “Principle .8” or the early pre-production prototype that tries out a creative idea, off the white board and into the world. This has been a useful concept for me to formalize, spurring me to stop thinking and instead create.
For two months I have wanted to make a solar powered water fountain. I carried the idea in my head, thinking about how I would build it, typically forgetting most of the ideas I had, good and bad ones. During two hours this morning, I built one. Its not a work of art or as fascinating as the concept of my imagination but now I have a working prototype. The ideas to advance my design are grounded in reality and my learning process is more engaged.
Another project this winter was learning to back roll while kiting. A little disorienting and scary to attempt, I carried the idea in my head rather than trying the move. Visualization helps to inspire the body to learn new movements but I was avoiding the real learning of doing. I wasn’t able to learn to back-roll until I had spent a day crashing in the water and at some point I was able to claim a version .8 prototype.
In actuality all learning is iterative, rather than expecting excellence before ‘going public’ an upwards spiral of quality seems to make more sense. I find it easier to trust an iterative process in a collaborative context, working together with everyone making their best attempts towards a common goal. During a collaborative experience, creative action is the focus rather than subjective competition. Knowing that this is not just my experience but typical of living and learning for everyone, it is much easier to empathize with my self and others. A social container for optimum learning and creative action is created.