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Mmw Innovationbook

Deep Craft

This is one of my favourite quotes, about establishing cultures of craft-knowing, and how important long-term, day-in day-out collaborative working are to innovation.


This kind of knowledge can’t be captured, it can only be hosted, protected and grown, in a place and over time.

“Real advanced technology — on-the-edge sophisticated technology — issues not from knowledge but from something I will call deep craft. Deep craft is more than knowledge. It is a set of knowings. Knowing what is likely to work and what not to work. Knowing what methods to use, what principles are likely to succeed, what parameter values to use in a given technique. Knowing whom to talk to down the corridor to get things working, how to fix things that go wrong, what to ignore, what theories to look to. This sort of craft-knowing takes science for granted and mere knowledge for granted. And it derives collectively from a shared culture of beliefs, an unspoken culture of common experience.

Such knowings root themselves in local micro-cultures: in particular firms, in particular buildings, along particular corridors. They become highly concentrated in particular localities.”

It’s from Brian Arthur’s book The Nature of Technology, What it is and how it evolves


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