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How will New Artisans create Legacy?
Alan Moore's final question from his 13 Design Questions in "Do Build"
There is something in the way that we are educated and trained that, when we’re asked a question, prompts us to find the “right” answer faster than anybody else and collect a gold star. It shows so little respect for either the questioner or the question.
I think questions have a personality that reflects the character of the questioner. Some can be shallow and superficial, framed just to show how clever the questioner is. Others, though, arrive looking innocuous until you engage with them, and they sweep everything else out of our attention until you take proper notice of them because there is no single, approved, respectable, gold-star answer.
They are questions that demand a conversation.
“How will New Artisans Create Legacy?” The initial gold-star-seeking response is to consider how, like a previously unknown relative, we will bestow unexpected bounty. Until that is, we look “legacy” in the eye and ask, “What are you, exactly?”
The dictionary tells me it is money or property left in a will, or an applicant given preferential treatment to a college because a relative has previously attended, or, in a slightly different twist, widely used hardware or software that is difficult to replace because of it’s wide use (a thought - might we apply it also to culture?)
A more informative glimpse into legacy, though, comes from its origins:
late 14c., legacie, "body of persons sent on a mission," from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus "ambassador, envoy, deputy," noun use of past participle of legare "send with a commission, appoint as deputy, appoint by a last will" (see legate). Etymyonline
I like the idea of legacy as something we send out to do work that matters more than something we receive. Something active rather than passive.
This brings me back to questions and what I have learned by answering Alan’s questions over the last couple of weeks. Good questions have no easy answers. Instead, they beget other questions by triggering other qualities in us - curiosity, wonder, awe even. They make us stop and look carefully at our assumptions, and work the question, like potters clay, to see what we can do with it.
If a legacy of New Artisans were to be to increase the instances of people asking these thirteen questions of their own work, and increasingly of the organisation they find themselves working for, and ensure any instant, neat, PR-crafted “gold-star” answers trotted out were subjected to the scrutiny they deserve, that would be a great result.
Jim Rohn says we become the average of the five people we most associate with. Perhaps the same applies to the questions we carry with us.
Diary Date: 9th August, 6:00 pm UK
Alan Moore, the originator of the questions I have been pondering these last couple of weeks, will join us on Zoom to consider our reactions, questions and thoughts on how we apply them to our own practices and businesses.
Open to Subscribers only. Limited to 18 participants. Not to be missed.