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2013-03-24

Four Dots

A few years ago, I was asked to make a presentation to all the UNC Chapel Hill information technologists. It was an annual gathering of all the central campus IT folks plus all the IT staff members across the colleges, schools, and department from every part of campus. Needless to say, I was a little "excited" as I mounted the stage. My talk was really about how things are speeding up and that change is now the norm. In some ways, that was an easy sell to the people in the room, but I wanted to go a step further.

After talking about the invention of speech, writing, movable type, telephony, and the web (taking many cues from writers stretching from Thomas Kuhn to Clayton Christensen), I came to the last segment. I called it "Four Dots". It's a puzzle that many people have seen, but I added a twist at the end. Here's a video that helps you understand my approach and goal.

I've engaged many groups over the years with that bit of fun. One person took it in and sat quietly for a minute, then said only, "Zen, very zen." I think he meant it as a compliment. I've found in my professional life to lose oneself in the moment of a meeting, particularly when addressing a vexing issue, opens me and others to novel solutions.

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