My interest in science fiction, and my impetus to write, both came from a life-long curiosity about not just how things are, but why they are, and how they interact. This is the instinct of the theorist, I suppose!
While much of what I work with these days would probably be categorised as social theory, at least by academics, that early instinct was shaped by an education that was meant to produce an engineer—more specifically, an electronic engineer. In other words, I had systems theory drilled into me at a fairly formative stage in my life. (Thanks, dad.)
Part of what I think of as being a theorist is knowing a lot of models for thinking about systems—social, technological, organisational—from which I can draw when analysing a problem. But the other part, and perhaps the more useful part, is the skill of being able to build a new model from parts of the ones I already know, and applying it to a new challenge.
In practical terms, this means I’m adaptable. Some consultants and researchers have one shiny theoretical hammer, and would desperately like to find some nails in your organisation that they can help you bang in. For my part, I’m much more interested in hanging around for a while and seeing what’s actually happening—and what theories may already be in play—before I start drawing diagrams.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a new way of looking at a problem—a fresh pair of eyes, as the saying goes. Perhaps I can see something in your situation that you’re missing… so why not set up a conversation and tell me what you’re worried about, and what you’re trying to do?