Monthly View From The Top

    Monthly View From The Top

    Home >  Library > Monthly View From The Top

    Picasso, computers and questions…

    I came across a great quote this week, from an unexpected source – no less that Pablo Picasso. As someone who loves his early simply and profound drawings, but isn’t so keen on his really abstract and surreal work, I was surprised by what he said. Bit of a dim reaction, really, given Picasso’s intellect; and always a mistake to pigeonhole a person by their output rather than value their capability. Anyway, what he said was ‘computers are useless, they only give you answers’. If that’s made you stop and think, you and I are in good company.

    Surely what you want from a computer is an answer? Well, yes. The power of technology is to process massive sets of data and provide an answer to our questions. But the really important part of the process is defining the right question. Like most of us, I use a computer every day, to write, to read, to research, to number-crunch, to listen to music and to view photographs and graphic images. This week I’ve been putting together an outline for a client seminar, and researching ideas and content on the internet.

    The point is, I can’t get far unless I phrase my ‘question’ in the best way. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

    Which got me thinking about the way colleagues and I work with clients. The biggest service we can provide for our clients is to ask them the right questions; questions that are insightful; that provide the stimulus to think about the situation or context differently. We might know the answer, or have a sense of what could be helpful. But asking the question is what enables the client to explore different approaches; make connections; create patterns.

    We’re all trained to analyse to break down a problem into its component parts. A TSOC consultant’s tasks is synthesis – and that’s the bit the computer can’t readily do.

    I’m unlikely to achieve greatness as an artist, unlike Picasso. But I’m very ready to learn from his insightful, if occasionally surreal eye! I’m with you, senor, being given ‘the answer’ is to negate the power of the question. So we’ll keep on asking…