Какое-то время назад написала статью для блога переводческой компании, и вот недавно она попалась мне на глаза.
Ну портфолио так портфолио — добавляю сюда для полноты картины.
In 1994, Sven Birkerts wrote a book, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, which contained fifteen essays on reading, human personality and the threats both face because of advanced technology development. Birkerts was afraid that explosive growth of the Internet would put at danger “reading as experience”.
Birkerts was devastated by the risk of loss of writing as the product of a focused mind and of sustained reading that would, in its turn, diminish the “breadth of our world and the depth of our own consciousness”. As the author of the article puts it, technology hazards mentioned endanger not only future of the books, but also that of small-town economies, American democracy, and the whole world.
In the past, people used to read one and the same book many times – reading was “intensive” or, in the Birkerts term, “vertical” moving down to the deep layers of thought. The advantage of real vertical reading of books that are works of art is that the time spent with the book “lingers” after a person sets the book aside. When readers are immersed in the book, they continue thinking about it during walk, when talking to friends, napping or shopping.
Today we live in the era of the Internet, data and content that change every second, and vertical reading has been to a greater extent replaced with horizontal. We don’t look in the depth any more; we live on the surface reading headlines, introductions or summaries. Unfortunately, horizontal reading also tends to be lingering. Many of us keep on thinking over what objections and arguments we could post in Facebook or Twitter, and ghosts of hatred, aggression, foolishness and shallowness haunt us now and then.
To summarize the Internet vs. and books opposition found in the article, the internet is like a flat surface. It’s a symbol of shallow time and nowhere space without any deeper layer. On the contrary, a book is the experience we can immerse in restoring the feeling of coherence. Vertical reading is a self-contained fulfillment that doesn’t have to argue for itself.
In spite of all risks and hazards, Birkerts is optimistic about future of the literature, and so is the author of the article. They both believe that books will survive due to people’s passion “to bodily pleasure of reading something remarkable”. Holding a book in your hands, enjoying its depth and immersing in the world of literature is life that is worthwhile, desirable, and still possible.
Я тут недавно отправляла резюме на работу своей мечты. Собственно, я даже не задумывалась, что из себя представляет такая работа, пока не увидела объявление на LinkedIn. Оказывается, можно за деньги читать и конспектировать статьи и книги. Такой сервис придумал Аллен Ченг, основатель Shortform. Сама идея экономить время читателей, пересказывая 90% содержания на 20% от объема исходного текста, глубоко греет мне душу.
Сразу скажу, работу я не получила, но отказ так сформулирован, что приятное чувство не оставляет меня до сих пор. Особенно меня порадовало, что ни у кого даже сомнений не возникло, что английский мне не родной, руководство Shortform только посетовало, что мой стиль не полностью соответствует их требованиям – a specific, possibly idiosyncratic approach to crafting summaries.
Так что, чтобы проба пера для Shortform не пропадала даром, привожу здесь три текста, которые я для них делала.
Due to tolerance for failure, willingness to experiment, psychological safety, being highly collaborative and nonhierarchical, innovative companies are seen by many people as places that are fun to work at.
However, it’s not always obvious that innovative companies have paradoxical corporate culture, and have to rely on behavioral counterbalances of their driving forces that are hard to implement and not so enjoyable.
These counterbalances are as follows:
Naturally, tolerance for failure is an integral part of innovation development for the companies working in the uncertainly environment, when no one knows what the outcome of their research will be.
To counterbalance this risk of failure and exclude incompetence as its reason, innovative companies set very high performance standards for and expect high competence from their employees. The project failure can bring valuable lessons to learn from for the future, unless it failed because the employees couldn’t perform up to the standard. The opposite of these are companies that are sympathetic to the employees even if they are no longer fit for the job in the ever changing business environment, or if their projects fail because of poor project or time management.
To adhere to the culture of competence, it’s necessary to set and follow clearly expected standards of performance, even if it means that some projects will have to be shut down and some employees will have to leave despite that their “incompetence” is not due to their own fault, but because of technology advances or change in the business context.
Discipline is one of the basics of experimenting in the uncertainty conditions so typical of innovative companies. The bright metaphor is that experimenting does not mean “working like some third-rate abstract painter who randomly throws paint at a canvas”. For discipline-based experimenting, it’s necessary to select and design experiments very scrupulously, to establish clear criteria of whether it’s worth to continue, and to be objective about the facts and deliverables generated.
As an example, the article dwells on Flagship Pioneering company dealing with new ventures based on pioneering science. The company adheres to the set of rules guiding its formal exploration process that help it maximize innovative research efficiency:
— a problem is explored by a small group of researchers;
— at a certain stage the purpose of the research is to develop “killer experiments” that would expose idea’s weaknesses;
— such experiments don’t cost more than $1 million and don’t last longer than half a year;
— Flagship employees don’t gain any benefits from continuing their project, and therefore are not interested in faking or ignoring the outcome they get.
As a result, Flagship Pioneering can handle more ideas in shorter time frame and easier abandons projects that are not promising.
Disciplined experimentation is all about delicate balance of encouraging your employees to verify ideas, determining, what time is enough to prove or reject a hypothesis without sacrificing creativity, on the one hand, and without wasting too much resources on the dead project, on the other one.
As proven by many years of research, psychologically safe environments both help organizations avoid severe failures and drive learning and innovation.
Here the balance is in mutual safety – if it safe for me to speak out freely and criticize others, it should also be safe for others to criticize me. On the one side of breaking such balance is consensus, when everyone agrees with each other just to sound polite, even if it compromises constrictive criticism that could ultimately drive better results. On the opposite side is the corporate environment that may seem too harsh for an outside observer. With such culture in place, employees may seem aggressive and hard to deal with.
Though another seeming paradox of the innovative culture, collaboration and individual accountability complement each other. Collaboration gives inputs, pieces of advice and recommendations to an employee, who is in charge of decision-making and is ultimately personally responsible for the choices made. Unlike collaboration, consensus makes it difficult to go through transformational innovation and slows down decision-making, and is “poison” for the innovation-focused environment.
The last paradox of the innovative culture is that flat organizations have strong leadership. Seemingly opposite, these features go hand in hand: due to the lack of hierarchy, decisions are made faster, managers get closer to the action, and the company can respond quicker to any circumstances it faces. But strong leadership is necessary for this type of management to avoid chaos flat organizations can otherwise end up with. Good examples of strong leadership in the innovative company are Amazon and Google. Both of them encourage delegation of personal responsibility downstream and high degree of freedom for the sake of creativity, but have strong and visionary leaders clearly stating the principles underlying company operations.
Leading the Journey
Managing the innovative culture company is quite a complicated endeavor for three reasons:
1 The risk of confusion resulting from the need to rely on the combination of seemingly contradictory management patterns.
2 The environment, which combines behaviors seen as positive, and the underlying counterbalances that are not so enjoyable. Not all employees will welcome high performance standards, strong discipline, individual accountability and sometimes harsh dialogue.
3 Since innovative culture is a comprehensive system it must be implemented in a comprehensive and not piecemeal manner.
Actionable Insights for Senior Leaders
Throughout the article you can find recommendations to leaders of the companies implementing innovative culture:
— To make their employees aware of the traps and pitfalls of the innovative business environment
— To clearly state difference between unproductive and productive failures
— To publicly take individual accountability despite the risks it implies to set the example to their employees
— To be able to shape company vision and strategies and at the same time to be technically competent
— To understand that the path of shaping the innovative culture cannot be curtailed
— Finally, to keep a close eye on whether the opposing features of the innovative culture are balanced to avoid instability and be always ready to intervene and restore the balance, if needed.