As someone who spends her days trying to straddle the Berlin Wall of the technology vs. people story and make it more human, I found this statment profound and wonderful. To me, it sounds like Jack demands depth, and that the depth comes from real work, and maybe even discomfort.
Here we have a guy of passion and depth, so intimatley connected to the root and source of his passions that bedazzling them with technology beyond a pickup and some noisy pedals is a degridation of the whole. Beyond Jack White's brilliance there is the framing of the statement. It comes from a fantastic 2008 film called It Might Get Loud. An exploration of three iconic, and very different guitar players, Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge. You bounce from hearing about The Edge's OCD effects rig and Jimmy Page's description of him as a "Sonic Architect" to Jack's contrasting statements about technology, to include the brilliant example in the image above, where Jack crafts a guitar from scraps. The thing is, they are both absolutely correct and the outcomes are equally brilliant. Which brings me to the point.
I say this ad nasuem, it is never all or nothing. It is never technology or people. Our constructs of right and wrong are skewed and out of balance when it comes to that basic, foundational perspective. They have been for decades, centuries, millenia… depending on your choice of diety (or lack of one) I suppose. Marketing has been yanking on this lever for as long as communications have been possible. Our monkey brains find comfort and ease in simple equations and the Tarzan-speak of good vs. bad. We are a species bound together by depth, complexity and surface tension. If we omit an element of who we are we tip, and ultimatley, either course correct or fall. We see this in our trade systems, our health care systems, our emergency managment systems, our enterprise tech, banks, our work, and relationships....
When we cling to stories about what's worked in the past as evidence to 'right' we need to go deeper and explore the whole of the story. Success, in the past, has been defined by very narrow critera. In business it's usually, "did we make the expected profit?". So many strategy plans simply omit any consideration of excellence, sentiment, quality of relationships, or the wellbeing of those involved as "soft" or "not our job". That autistically rationalized answer often came at the expense of someone, and that expense very often does not materialize within the assessment of success. Immediatley we tip again, ensuring ultimate failure and a repeated attempt. Regardless of human or financial costs. The monkeys are at it again.
Our critera for success is broadening. This is felt in the disruption we're witnessing across the globe. We're growing weary of business as usual. We're (at a painfully slow pace) growing weary of inhuman practices in the name of business. Cynicisim is the manifestation of fear that inhibits meaningful change, and ensures long term failure. We're feeling that too. Just read a newspaper for examples.
I'll stand in the front row and testify. I'll shout a loud amen and agree whole heartedly with Jack White. I'll applaud him for embracing those who have wildly different approaches to the same work as well. On the way home from that tent revival I'll bounce from a Jack track to a Flying Lotus track. My mind will be equally blown and my need for rhythm satisfied by both.
I don't want an easy answer when someone asks me "what kind of music do you like?".
I'm working hard to embrace complexity, to learn something every day, to freak myself out a little and grow as a person. I don't want a box to check or a best practices plan to follow. The prevailing criteria is too limiting. The models too historic. I'm working on a mind that is open to personal disruption, and hope there are others who seek the same. Ultimately all of this change we're talking about has to begin at a personal level. I can't ask anyone to do something I'm not willing to do. It doesn't matter how good my intentions are, the ask will fail.
Truly meaningful positive change doesn't often come with a strategy plan. It happens in cycles of deconstruction and construction, when we make room for it and get beyond good vs. bad, people vs. technology, right vs. wrong. Grab a wider lens. Let go. What you see will surprise you and change you forever.
btw, if you haven't checked out Blunderbuss yet, wth are you waiting for?