11.17.2009

Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth


Do you ever come across words so electric that a little jolt of adrenaline actually rushes through your veins? I recently discovered Bruce Mau's powerful and stunningly lucid Incomplete Manifesto for Growth (via the archives of the equally electrifying Danielle LaPorte, whose brilliance deserves and will get its own post here soon).

For those unfamiliar, Bruce Mau is a world-renowned visionary designer and innovator, whose creative genius spans interdisciplinary projects as far-reaching as creating a new visual identify for MoMA; incorporating a vision for global sustainability into the culture and business of Coca-Cola; and launching The Massive Change Project, a movement to "explore the legacy and potential, the promise and power of design in improving the welfare of humanity."

In short, Bruce embodies the sort of forward-thinking creative thinker who will pretty much rule the world in the not-too-distant future, and his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth is a compendium of the principles and beliefs that fuel his approach. Whether applied to design, business, or life, his words ring true and fierce.

It's well worth reading the whole list, but here are some of my personal favorites (all taken verbatim from right here):

Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth.

Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals – but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

For those of you who have read the list (seriously go read it right now!), what do you think? Which are your favorites? Are there any that you disagree with or that make you uncomfortable? I'm super curious to hear your thoughts.

Image via Bruce Mau Design.

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I love it!

Ashley said...

Some of my favorites are:
4. Love your experiments ...Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
8. Drift.
...Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

This one makes me a little uncomfortable:
34. Make mistakes faster.

I disagree with:
"25. Don’t clean your desk." because I love a clear desk – clutter distracts me.
and "27. Read only left-hand pages." I like reading too much to skip pages!

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