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Web 2.0--The Separation of Form and Content and What that Means for Us

It's Not Just About "Good Enough," It's About Empowerment

My post earlier this week on disruptive innovations and "good enough" solutions sparked an interesting response from Niels Unis:

"Bamboo gives the example of micro-lending which has changed many people’s lives. What is so effective about micro-lending, among other things, is that it empowers people to change their own lives finding solutions in situations that they know and understand. This empowerment, however, is a radical idea, and much more than a “good enough” solution. Mother of Peace has built a self sustaining farm. They make their own bread. . .

What I think is at stake is that in wanting to provide the ultimate solution, we want to feed our ego, increase our power over the world. The shift in thinking is not from “perfect” to “good enough.” The shift is one that recognizes that creating more power for the powerless, ultimately empowers everybody."

I think that Niels is right on with this insight. While the original intention of my post was to share the concept of catalytic innovations and "good enough solutions," , Niels accurately points out that the power of many of these innovations may lie in their capacity to empower the powerless.

"Good enough" solutions by their very nature will not be able to breed the same level of dependence found in more comprehensive programs. They are meant to be less fully-featured, easier to use, more simplistic. They are meant to get a specific job done and in the process, they empower the recipients to be the ones to do that.

I think Niels is also right that there's a touch of ego in wanting to provide more "comprehensive" solutions. On many occasions I've worked on designing education and training programs for TANF recipients and disadvantaged youth. Time and again I've been told that these people aren't "capable" of learning like other people--that we need to set up a system that basically does everything for them because they aren't able to do it for themselves. When I've been able to successfully fight this mentality and create a more empowering, more loosely-structured program, the naysayers have always been astounded by the results. Not that it doesn't mean I don't often have a fight on my hands again the next time I push for more customer control.

So another reason for us to pursue more catalytic innovations--because they empower the people with whom we are working.



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