Dead cats and iterative collaboration

August 12, 2014

Today is Erwin Schrödinger’s (he of the famous half-dead cat) 127th birthday.  We found this terrific excerpt from his 1933 Nobel Prize address:

If I am to have an interest in something, others must also have one. My word is seldom the first, but often the second, and may be inspired by a desire to contradict or to correct, but the consequent extension may turn out to be more important than the correction, which served only as a connection.

Though the tone of that quote echoes Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, the content echoes a topic we like to cover here:  iterative collaboration.

From Hayek Was Right – Why Cloud Computing Proves the Power of Markets:

Many things about our company turned out differently than we had expected… The Hayekian knowledge problem is not a mere abstraction. Our innovations that have driven the greatest economic value uniformly arose from iterative collaboration between ourselves and our customers to find new solutions to hard problems.

Success is often achieved in incremental, adaptive fashion – with failure counted on to make a brief cameo at some point along the way. We love the collaborative imagery of a “correction” being a “connection” to the “extension” of an idea. Perhaps the great scientist ought to have received a Nobel for nerd poetry to go along with the one in physics.

Here is an explanation of his “thought experiment” that does, and doesn’t, kill a cat:


For more on the topic of iterative collaboration, please see:

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