September 30, 2021

Communication, not control

Yesterday evening I watched ‘the very long and very beautiful history of technical drawing’ on the #Railnatter podcast.

Boulton and Watt’s industry disrupting atmospheric engines were the size of a house.  They couldn’t be factory built and transported, there was no railway then.

Instead, the firm sent technical drawings to the customer so that local engineers could build the engine on site.

The same technical drawings enabled later, different engineers to maintain, repair, relocate and upgrade these engines.  Or, back at Boulton and Watt, to design new, better engines – on paper, cheaply.

Even later, they’ve enabled modern engineers to recreate these engines for our edification and delight.

Technical drawings aren’t even only for techies.  They were often used to explain complex ideas and processes to clients, funders and the wider public.

In other words, technical drawings, like musical scores, building plans and other tools we use to collaborate around are about communication, not control.  The kind of communication across space and time that allows a business to scale across space and time.

How about your business?  What would your technical drawings look like?  Do you have them, or are they only in your (or someone else’s) head?