Swapping boards

I first heard of this concept while listening to Tim Ferriss interview the chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin (A very interesting character, links and books below). It really struck a chord with me. The idea is based around quasi-metaphor of a surfer, paddleboarder or any other similar  hobby or sport in which the person and the equipment become intimately connected and have a somewhat unique and inexplicable connection with each other. This sort of entanglement is based on the trust and knowledge that the “board” ot “tool” will guide the user in a particular way to  which the user is intuitively aware and mostly subconsciously accustomed to.

It is in this in connection and subconscious reliance we find the question.

Is there anything to be gained by swapping boards?

In the age of the measurable, quantifiable, explicable and tangible there is little room for the risk of theoretical. Would two competing  businesses be willing to swap a team of people in a similar department in each company with another and track the results? Of course not, that would be insane. But, what if? We all know that it would bring a different dynamic to the problem solving process and how it is approached. It is in using a different board or set of tools that we can uncover somthing about ourselves along the way.

Take for example an experience of mine many years ago I borrowed an electric circular saw from a carpenter friend of mine. I thought that using his superior equipment I would blitz through my DIY project. He made it look so seemingly effortless whizzing through the pine with smug precision. Wanker! Give me that. 30 seconds in and my pride was hurting far more than my arm. It was a disaster. A series of jerks and jumps, the wood was on the floor and the saw has violently wrangled itself out of my hand and I’m holding my twisted wrist.

I had neither the strength or coordination to be able to even let the saw do the job that it has been so beautifully engineered to do. That is no reflection on the quality of the saw but the ability of the idiot trying to guide it. Me.

This inate object had put me firmly on my arse and given me something profound to think on. Despite the simplicity the application of the principle is far reaching.

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative”

– Oscar Wilde

Josh Waitzkin




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