On the Shirky Principle.

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”

This is the Shirky Principle, per Clay Shirky as described in this interesting post I came across.  I think I can safely say we’ll recognize this in the association world, either with a sigh because we’ve discussed this sort of thing before, or like a – BAM! – right between the eyes.

Although this is pretty self-explanatory, I encourage you to read the post if you want to dig deeper into a couple of examples.  But the author suggests a question which I’d love to throw out to you:

In a strong sense we are defined by the problems we are solving. Yin/Yang, problem/solution, both sides form one unit. Because of the Shirky Principle, which says that every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving, progress sometimes demands that we let go of problems.

What do you think?  What problems could your organization let go of?


verde amarelo

{ 6 comments }

ltwhite April 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm

RT @maddiegrant: Socialfishing:: On the Shirky Principle. http://bit.ly/blaCkw <What problems do you need to let go of?>

SocialFishFood April 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

On the Shirky Principle. http://bit.ly/cTI3BF #socialfish

christytj April 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

RT @maddiegrant: SocialFishing: On the Shirky Principle. http://bit.ly/bLCfsA

DanScheeler April 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

RT @maddiegrant: SocialFishing: On the Shirky Principle. http://bit.ly/bLCfsA

David Gammel April 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I’ve come to believe that one of the more valuable things an association board can do is to identify something the organization is doing that is no longer valuable and kill it dead. Take it out back and recreate the computer scene in Office Space. Stuff it down the memory hole. Bye bye.

This frees up resources for creating new value without having to grow the overall budget or dip into reserves.

Letting go of old problems is very consistent with that.

maddiegrant April 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm

On the Shirky Principle. http://j.mp/blaCkw

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