Not much to write about this week. Enjoying the warmth, walking, biking and swimming, and occasionally checking the weather back in Ottawa to remind us of just how lucky we are to get away.
And always fun, as Canadians, to be in the States, observing the differences between Canada and the US, even if some of these may be more particular to Florida:
- Everything is bigger. The roads, the stores, the food portions, and the people;
- Class and racial differences are obvious. Whether at restaurants, shops, cultural centres or car washes, the people with the money are largely – but not exclusively – white, the service workers largely – but again not exclusively – black or latino;
- Things are cheaper. We did our bit helping the American (or at least Chinese) economy at the outlets, but this applies elsewhere (but not healthcare);
- The extent of Central and South American tourism in South Florida, most evident at one of the mega outlets, where Spanish and Portuguese were the main languages, with many shoppers buying suitcases to take their purchases home;
- Designed for the car except for the designated ‘downtowns’ (either real or recreated). Even some of the nice paths near the water are not busy (in contrast to the malls ….);
- Gated communities and security ‘theatre.’ The place we are staying has three separate gates to get in and special pass codes to access our floor. And it is a mid-range unit;
- The backwardness of the US banking and credit card system, which still requires signatures rather than use of a PIN (as has been common in Canada and Europe for the last few years);
- People are an interesting mix of both more open and chatty and curt and business-like;
- And given that it is Florida, an overall older population, as we are here post-Spring break (makes me feel younger!).
I have been reading Through the Detox Prism: Exploring Organizational Failures and Design Responses, by Gilles Paquet and Tim Ragan, looking at five elements of organizational failures: management/labour, lack of clear accountabilities, not internalizing externalities, hijacking by outside groups, and lack of social and moral context. Some of the short case studies mentioned are not as convincing as they could be, in particular, the accountabilities section overly focuses on supply chain issues where I think the greater challenge is horizontal co-ordination and governance within organizations, whether private or public.
However, the book’s mention of the social and moral context is more than valid, as these are foundations upon which our institutions, laws, and codes reside, although I do not share the author’s caricature of modernism and relativism – the implied ‘good old days’ were not so good after all (Woody Allen’s brilliant characterization of nostalgia in Midnight in Paris reminds us of how we tend to see the past in rose-tinted glasses).
Best wishes to those of you celebrating Easter or Passover.