'You're pointing at the gods but you can't really see the gods so you create a statue. Same sort of thing in Physics - you can't really see that far so you create a model. Then you fall in love with the model and it becomes a form of idolatry. You end up worshipping the model as opposed to the thing you were trying to understand...so you need to be an iconoclast and take those down and re-animate your direct experience, your direct epiphanies and insights into that world of pattern. And yet by taking that turn you also connect back into lived experience in a way that to me opens up the moral and ethical dimensions of life once again.'
- Arthur Zajonc, Physicist
We name our Widget. The thing that we want to build. The place we want to be. It's our Purpose. Our reason for coming to work. The thing that keeps us going.
At this point of every Widget explanation - most people shift in their seats. Fold their arms. Drop their chins into their chests. Inspect their shoes.
They don't like the Widget.
I never anticipated the Widget to provoke such discomfort verging on anger. Surely it's self-evident to say that everything that we do should be directed at achieving an outcome?
If our Personal Widget is a little ambiguous, at least our Work Widget should be straightforward. After all, our boss is paying us money to make it for her.
And yet - no.
People challenge the idea of a Work Widget. Some find it offensive - yet none has been able to explain to me why. I want someone to do so because I might be wrong. I'm most often wrong in the things that I think are self-evident - like our boss pays us money to make her Widget.
Perhaps it's because the Widget sounds like one of Arthur Zajonc's gods. An inferior imitation of what is really important in life. Even the name - 'Widget' - demeans our labour and therefore our lives?
'They' are right. Widget worship is demeaning.
This Widget thing that we define? This True North on our decision making compass? This foundation of good decision making?
Our job is to try to destroy it.
With each good decision - we gamble our Widget. With each good decision - we invite criticism of our Widget. With each good decision - we risk discovering that our Widget is not what we thought it was. With each good decision - we draw closer to our Widget and therefore diminish it.
This thing we were recruited to do for our boss and that sounded so hard and beyond us? With each good decision becomes less so. This life goal that we thought was so important to us? School? Uni? Job? Promotion? Relationship? We reach and overtake them and they fade into our rear vision mirror.
Now we understand why people would prefer to make instinctive, gut-driven, positional power based, 'decisive' decisions than apply the discipline of a deliberate process of inquiry. There's no Widget at stake.
The Widget critics are actually Widget early adopters. They are only able to criticise the Widget idea because - it's a Widget. By arguing for what is limiting about the Widget; what they don't like about it, they need to think about what they do seek. They need to think about...their Widget.
By setting up our Widget icon we begin its destruction with each good decision.
To be replaced by another Widget. A new project, role, job, career...love.
Like the 100km drive through the night where you only ever see the 30m of road ahead that's illuminated by the headlights.
Building on each good decision until ultimately - we transcend the icon and stand before the god.
It's all about the Widget.