Last night, while at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, I ended up in Blogtronix‘s suite, where they had a snazzy wine and cheese thing going on. We are all competitors at this conference, but unsurprisingly, we are all quite friendly and social with each other. Blogtronix puts on a great party!
Anyway, I had remembered reading/hearing/watching something that posited the following:
Men think like waffles, and women think like spaghetti.
We started discussing this. Waffles are orderly, compartentalized, and quite tasty with syrup and butter. Spaghetti, on the other hand, is a jumbly mound of unpredictable configurations, and tastes best with just a little spice in the sauce (but, is also good with syrup and butter – what isn’t?). When I had first explained the Waffle and Spaghetti analogy, one of my (male) pals piped up and said, “Maybe we need to use a breakfast food analogous with spaghetti, or a dinner food analogous with waffles, so that the comparison is even more dramatic.”
I, of course, said, “Why can’t I eat spaghetti for breakfast? That’s Waffle Thinkin’, man!”
I then remembered Stowe Boyd‘s session earlier that day, Web Culture and the New Ethos of Work. Stowe talked about how the corporate world must re-think the “post-everything” era, and reform the way work happens (I paraphrase horribly). He showed up at the party later with his awesome hat and enlightened me further in person, but I was drinking by then.
Many corporations are full of Waffle Thinkers. Waffle employees are very expensive cogs in giant industrial-age wheels (or, little squares in giant waffles), cranking away to earn more money for some stakeholder so that he can buy another shiny boat. Stowe talked about how employees will become “artists” in the future, with freedom to create and share and consume across the Waffle. To me, that’s good Spaghetti Thinking. The enterprise needs more Spaghetti Thinking, regardless of gender. We need more unpredictable, serendipitous, temporal organizational configurations and connections. I’m not saying we need to throw out the Waffle Way, but maybe pile some spaghetti on it.