Monday, June 23, 2008

It's All About The Ideal

"But what you're describing, that's the ideal situation. In reality, things don't work that way."

This was just a casual comment in a recent conversation, but something about it struck me and really resonated with me. The Ideal Situation. It's easy to rule out ideas and concepts when you hang this tag on them. The underlying message is that you are crazy or unreasonable because you aren't willing to accept the status quo.

But The Ideal Situation is all about envisioning a better system and trying to move reality closer to the ideal. It's Plato's forms, the object in itself, and reaching for better grasp of where things should be. The Ideal is where innovation occurs, where we define a target and start building a roadmap to get there.

Silicon Valley is all about the Ideal Situation -- about start-ups with a lot of crazy ideas about where things should be and what the barriers to getting there have been. It's about hundreds of micro-experiments, shifting and pulling to a new space that brings us one step closer to ideal.

Does anyone remember what the first company was that gave away juice and soft drinks to it's employees? Or the first company to provide dinner for them every night? Thiry years ago, it would have been inconceivable to have day-care on site. Or laundry. Fifteen years ago, the idea of spending 20% of your work time focused on some pursuit that you're interested would have seemed outlandish -- but this is yet another benefit/experiment in the working environment at Google.

It may be that envisioning The Ideal Situation makes me unreasonable or puts me on track for some unrealistic expectations, but regardless, I expect that tomorrow I will continue to dream of, look for, and believe in the ideal situation. And I hope that you will too.

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