Do both, and focus on everything


Joi Ito has taught me so much since I started reading his writing around seven years ago.  More recently I've been able to collaborate with Joi on some stuff, and I can now safely say that the only thing better than Joi on the web is Joi in real life!

Recently at IDEO we've been talking about the difference between having a vision and having a purpose.  A vision is something you shoot for, a point in the future, while a purpose is a point of origin, something that guides you.  We're of a belief that visions are tough to go after when you desire innovative outcomes because they tend to reduce emergent behavior and serendipity.  A single, defined point in the future may be better suited to a top-down, variance-eliminating organization trying to reach a single goal, rather than for one trying to exist in certain way, believing that a guiding purpose will ensure that the outcomes that do arise will be not only appropriate, but likely extraordinary.

Against that context, I just read Joi's latest blog post, Focusing on Everything, which is just wonderful.  Here's an excerpt:

One of the great thoughts in the book is the idea that you should set a
general trajectory of where you want to go, but that you must embrace
serendipity and allow your network to provide the resources necessary to
turn random events into a highly valuable one and
that developing that network comes from sharing and connecting by
helping others solve their problems and build things.

I heartily recommend reading the rest of Joi's post — it is powerful stuff.  As someone who took John Maeda's advice to "do both" to heart a few years ago, I find Joi's philosophy of life very reassuring. 

Focus on everything.  Yes, I think I will.

photo credit: Mizuka