The Recipe For Doing The Impossible



Years ago now, more than a decade ago, I sat with JR Clark in a conference room one long, long, very long Santa Clara afternoon. We were in deep dialogue about the nature of prescriptions, recipes, and process descriptions. We shifted through what Betty Crocker could teach us in her test kitchens, and concluded that the best we'd get there would be replication. We considered what might happen if we were to go looking for a recipe for innovation --- and what we might find if we found it, and found little opportunity for replication there. And we also pondered what might happen if we mistook a Betty Crocker-quality recipe (one thoroughly proven in her test kitchens) for something useful in a situation demanding innovation. This produced The Recipe For Not Doing The Impossible, complete with manic cycles of hopefulness and despair.

We found The Recipe for Doing the Impossible, though Betty would certainly find it wanting. This recipe is of an entirely different order than any recipe Betty might publish. Its main ingredients, as summarized above, are ignorance of what to do, meticulous attention to the way things are, and clarity about what in the world you want to end up with. Finding the ability to act (to wrest the inertia of motion from the inertia of rest) completes the ingredients. Unlikely. Betty should be disappointed in our work.

JR's gone now. So, I suspect, is that conference room. The recipe lives on. Unbelieved by many. Unlikely as it seems. It remains the stuff that stands between aspiration and the seen.

Cryptic enough?

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