Probably the only concept I still remember from when I programmed in Basic was this:
Everything is a series of inputs, or outputs.
Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it. Business can be seen as a series of inputs and outputs, too. Bodies, quite literally, work like this.
So I’ve been pretty intentional about making sure I have good inputs. By attending well-curated conferences (like TED), hanging out with creative, inspiring, and thoughtful people, listening for good questions to steer writing, signing up to receive the writing of great thinkers who blog, taking time to read outside one’s domain, and traveling to foreign places, reading good books (did you see the post on Peter Sims book), etc.
You probably have a similar list for how to have great inputs.
Lately, I am disappointed with my outputs. I sense that something is missing. And so, I started thinking of how to add more or different inputs. I neglected to think of the system view for a moment.
But it is obvious when I think of it: inputs and outputs are typically what we can see. But the important part is that there is something happen by the system to the inputs to create outputs. Inputs are not an end into itself; they are a beginning. To be changed by the inputs, there has to be space to create, to build on the input, and then to produce an output. The system itself has to do something to the inputs to create meaningful value. We know that cells need to regenerate. We know machines needs to compute. Well, humans need to create.
To create, we need space to do so, often in the form of silence and time. Time allows what we do not just be a production line of emails and meetings. And, space enables each of us create a more thoughtful point of view. It’s the different between being a consumer and processes of information, and being a creator of insights. Humans need to create; that’s what the system is designed to do. But only if we let it.