Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Vuja de

I dug up an insightful, albeit dated (it’s from late 2005 … wonder if there’s a blogland prohibition against belatedly referencing posts) piece in Fast Company, Anthropologists in Pursuit of ‘Vuja De’. Here’s the opening graph:

Everybody has heard of deja vu, right? It's the distinct feeling you've been here before. When you go out to do field work in Anthropologist mode, you should aspire to the opposite: a state of mind my friend Bob Sutton at Stanford calls "vuja de." Vuja de happens when you enter a situation you've been in a thousand times before, but with the sense of being there for the first time.
Very clever, apparently the genius of comedian George Carlin. It's synonymous with the French saying, jamais vu, which, when wikied, means "never seen" and is used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognized by the observer.

Vuja de is also synchronous with several previous discussions herein, including Yes, and … (specifically our reference to Zen Beginner’s Mind) and Problem solver, or problem finder.

The terse post also reminded me of Why Not?, the second-best-innovation-and-creativity-book-in-the-world (behind Hargadon’s How Breakthroughs Happen). Chapter 1, The Way Things Never Were, commences with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy (after George Bernard Shaw):
Some men see things as they are and say, “Why?” I dream of things that never were and say, “Why not?”
Tom Kelley, the Vuja De post’s author, concludes:
Once you start asking the right vuja de questions, you might find that the answers can lead to big opportunities for your business.
Agreed, and it recalls one of my heroes, Curious George (more on George soon). Curious is one cool monkey. He has a wonderful penchant for getting in trouble because he’s so, well, curious. If George could talk – can/does he? – I’m sure his dialect would be full of fearless vuja de questions.

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