Here’s a nice discussion launched on the LinkedIn group “Systems Thinking and Lean for Services”: What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind (N. Carr) | LinkedIn.
I make my own contribution which I reiter here, since the group’s closed:
The original english article (from 2008) hasn’t been linked. Here is it:
A remark I just made to myself: we’re changing the way we read, undoubtedly. That we probably are also changing our way of thinking, I can understand it too.
But should it really be viewed as a problem? I mean, if you want to continue to live by thinking the way you thought a few years ago (ie, ‘deeply’), then surely you have a problem. No argument either that deep thinking allowed some fantastic inventions.
But I think there’s an (unspoken) assumption behind the article: that this new zapping way of thinking is worse than the deeper one. Surely the same things can’t probably be achieved using the new way than with the older one.
Yet, again, is it really a problem?
Humans are structurally coupled with their environment (Maturana). Their environment reflects themselves, and this is reflected also in the language they use (and inversely if we agree with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – now that I know Systems Thinking, I’d say there’s structural coupling here as well).
So that (new) languaging (Twitter or Facebook short messages), thinking, web surfing, zapping, etc. is the new way life is lived today. Or is going to be lived for years to come (I don’t see it changing soon: ask any teacher for instance about the trends they see).
In the article, Google is assumed to be the equivalent of Taylor. Then I suggest that Tim Berners-Lee was the Ford of Internet (he pulled knowledge online on the web), and now Taylor/Google is organizing it for us. I suspect the Semantic Web will even reinforce that (go think why!
May I remind you that Taiichi Ohno came after Taylor with what was deemed to be known as the Toyota Production System (or Lean, though the latter lacks that Respect for People part, most of the time).
Should we compare the two, I’d say that where Taylor (Google) devised how to work (think), Ohno (? no replacement yet?) devised how to improve that work… without too much deep thinking, instead with constant and continuous improvement of the work.
Where Taylor split the work, Ohno used the small thinking of people to have them improve their small part of the work, then connect the dots (the parts) through A3 thinking and nemawashi (Google these!
I see an enormous advantage in being able to surf knowledge on the web (for instance): it allows to far more rapidly connect concepts and ideas together, which you can only do so slowly when only thinking deep.
So instead of scarce big changes once in a while, we might end up with a flow of continuous small changes and innovations, all the time.
Toyota became the best in manufacturing doing exactly that. Why couldn’t people do the same for their own thinking?