The Space Between

Phil Jackson, the renown basketball coach, would tell his players on the court to always look for the space between.

It was in that space between that team excellence would be achieved, one that transcended what individuals could do on their own. As a leader, one must help others find the right balance that could fully leverage each team member's strengths. An expression of Wu Wei.

>To explain, Jackson would tell a story about the Chinese emperor Liu Bang. A citizen asks a Zen monk why is it that Liu Bang is considered a powerful leader if all of his advisers are smarter and stronger than he is? > The Zen monk replies: > “‘Why is it that two wheels made of identical spokes differ in strength?’ asked the master. ‘See beyond what is seen. Never forget that the wheel is made not only of spokes, but also of the space between the spokes. > Sturdy spokes poorly placed make a weak wheel. Whether their full potential is realized depends on the harmony between them. > The essence of wheel-making lies in the craftman’s ability to conceive and create the space that holds and balances the spokes within the wheel.'” web

We believe that there might be lessons here for how we think about engineering resilient systems. Alan Kay certainly thought so.

>The big idea is "messaging" - that is what the kernal of Smalltalk/Squeak is all about (and it's something that was never quite completed in our Xerox PARC phase). > >The Japanese have a small word - ma - for "that which is in between" - perhaps the nearest English equivalent is "interstitial". > >**The key in making great and growable systems is much more to design how its modules communicate rather than what their internal properties and behaviors should be. ** _[emphasis added]_ > >Think of the internet - to live, it (a) has to allow many different kinds of ideas and realizations that are beyond any single standard and (b) to allow varying degrees of safe interoperability between these ideas.

Ma has also been described as "an emptiness full of possibilities, like a promise yet to be fulfilled", and as "the silence between the notes which make the music" wikipedia . A white space that is inherent within the Lisp and Lambda calculus, that which laid the foundation for Smalltalk.

Biologists now understand the critical importance of "interstitial" layers in forests – provided by fungus – that are essential for resilience, a concept explored further when we go Into the Forest.

We sense that this space – call it a void or or a chasm of chaos – in which new patterns emerge is at the core of understanding why Interruptions are Essential.

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