Mark Hurrell.


What’s next

20 September 2014

I ask him the question all scientists dread: 'We should be able to see what's next, and yet we don't. Why is it so hard to see what's next?'

Moritz Steiner reflects, 'Instead of asking "what's next?" we instead need to ask "what do people want?" Maybe that's as close as you can get to an answer for that question.'

Steiner's comment reminds me of an anecdote I heard a million years ago, when I was studying Japanese business science in Honolulu in 1985 (long story). A gentleman from Sony came in to discuss corporate recruiting in Japan – this was back in the era when lifelong employment was still part of the Japanese narrative. He told us, 'We interviewed two hundred engineering graduates for a job in product development, and we asked all of them what they'd like to develop. Each of them said that they'd like to push new technologies to their limit and discover something that could be turned into a device never seen before by the world – all except for one graduate, the one who we actually hired. What was his reply? "I'll design whatever you think you can sell."'

But Steiner isn't that kind of thinker. 'Do I want to hunt after the latest leap of performance? No. I really would rather do something that's a leap.'

Thank heaven for youth.

Douglas Coupland, Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent

Really enjoying this book so far. Nice approachable writing about the internet from Coupland, beautiful photography from Olivia Arthur. Plus the clever cellophane sleeve thing lets you open the book without taking the plastic wrapper off, which makes it quite good for the bath.

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