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Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age
Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age
by Marty Neumeier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Argument, 5 Feb. 2013
I've read Marty Neumeier's other books which develop strong cases for design as a core strategic tool for the modern organisation. As someone who works in the field of design and innovation management consulting, I devoured them. If you've not read them and you work in the field of design, then you're way behind the curve.

Metaskills is different. It isn't a book about design per se. ZAG et al took his knowledge and experience of design and placed it in the context of the organisation. They were 'white board' primers: consumable in two hours or so and leaving the reader able to exploit design thinking within his or her organisation (or his clients') immediately. And I really did devour them

I savoured Metaskills: it took quite a bit more than two hours. In a good way. The stuff in here is not to be skim read. There's no quick fix via design thinking here (though there are lots of great tips). It's a book that provokes deep thought and provides some great insight about humanity's progress. Marty's perspectives on design are woven seamlessly with his well considered and highly accessible discussion on a range of important issues.

His articulation of the value of problems and spending time them, rather than hurrying to the solution and execution phases of a development, were a particular highlight for me (I tell that Einstein "one hour" story whenever possible). The description of systems thinking as Grandma might see it, is inspired and the best introduction to the topic I've read.

Marty helps us understand why we are operating in a world of increasing uncertainty, change and complexity and why the current modus operandi just won't sustain us. It's a beautiful unpacking of some arguments he is associated with: The Aesthetics of Management (check the [...] site for more on this) or his assertion that design thinking will replace spreadsheet thinking as the dominant management strategy for the 21st century. He unpacks these. And then some.

Anyone who has to navigate complex, multidimensional challenges, in a time of uncertainty, where there are no easy answers and when you need to take many stakeholders with you on a journey and many more peoples' views into account, needs this book. From a professional perspective at least, that'll be everyone I know.

This is an important book. Metaskills will change how you see the world and your role in it. If you care at all about how you spend your time on this planet then - not least because of the suggestions for ways in which you can develop notions of personal responsibility, get comfortable with ambiguity, navigate and reframe complex problems, capitalise on design methods as you develop solutions and learn more about yourself and your own learning as you go - you should read it.

The final section of the book - The Modest Proposal for reforming education - makes such startlingly good sense that anyone actively engaged in educational reform should be talking to Neuemeir. Though I fear that the UK Government won't be extending that invite any time soon, I'll suggest it where I can.

Finally, anyone who can sneak in a reference to Eddie Izzard during a discussion on purpose and how we measure progress towards it, while flagging the failings of GDP as an indicator of a productive society and that happiness is a much better indicator, is alright by me. Tres bien!


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