Quotes as Design Agents

"In those places where we're most alive, we are questions, not answers. These questions change as we age. One has to listen carefully, again and again, to detect new questions, which may announce themselves in a whisper. At any age, the questions we're asking define our growing edge. So long as we've got even a single question, we're not dead. If all we have are answers, we might as well be." Robert Fuller, Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank

I am often invited to provide quotes to people or for an event.  I love quotes. Note that each of my Journal entries begins with a quote. Each reminds me that I am not alone in my thinking; there are others musing over similar challenges and insights...  I have hundreds of quotes and each is an instruction or insight for me.  They are far more than words; they are ideas to build on and to take as instructive commands.  They give added voice to  my own thinking or to that of a group. I can remember many of the moments where "words jumped off the page" and introduced themselves to me.  Sometimes I have been lucky enough to meet the authors and thank them for their gift. Sometimes, the authors have been surprised and delighted with my insights into their words.  I have added meaning they never considered!  Good exchanges between author and myself  bring forth even more meaning. 

I heard somewhere that the reason children love to have stories read to them over and over is not because they lack imagination ... exactly the opposite! Each time the story is read, children find new meaning, they engage differently and become different actors within the story; all the senses are explored and used.   Quotes are like this for me.  Each time I use one it is fresh and new, taking on new meaning and life.

Todd used to manage the quote base on the MGTaylor website. Each Sunday night or Monday morning he would post a new quote for the week.  I used these quotes as others might use Tarot or other intuitive forms for bringing focus to a point in time. They instructed me as to how to consider the challenges and opportunities ahead for the week.  Quotes are like having a companion by my side reminding me of supporting or alternative views to an idea or question. 

The MG Taylor system and method is based on interaction between knowledge agents. Agents can be human, physical, or virtual. It is the relationship and interaction between how these agents work together through iterations of design that creates emergence of new ideas.  Our system was developed to help groups solve complex problems ... to let new solutions emerge out of rich conversations made up of people in dialog with each other as well as articles, quotes, multi media and the environment.  It takes this kind of diversity and complexity to work from within a whole systems perspective. 

Next time you're attracted to a quote, do something with it. Turn it into a design challenge. Give it permission to focus your day. Wrap it around a question that you want to ask others.  Quotes are not meant to be stored in data bases and be pulled out and dusted off for show. A good quote is never static, true once and for all. Rather, quotes want to be threaded throughout many conversations; wrapped in curiosity; and used to help find genuinely new solutions. Best of all, I think, they want to perturb new thoughts again and again ... to surface new questions using the same words but forever seen in a new context.