Hammers and nails popping up everywhere

Posted on 9 November 2010


Recently I’ve happened across a couple of blog posts and articles that use the hammer and nail metaphor to explain why different people approach the same issue vastly differently. You know the one: ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’?

As well as having had Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘El Condor Pasa’ stuck in my head for days, I’ve been applying the idea to all sorts of situations. It’s helped me to communicate much more clearly. It’s a lot easier to explain my take on something to someone who just doesn’t get it when I’ve worked out what their particular hammer is.

This weekend, I’m blogging the Brisbane Tipping Point conference. It’s the first time the conference has been in Australia and it was on  in Sydney last weekend and Melbourne the weekend before that. It brings together professionals in the art world and professionals in the science world on the topic of climate change, what to do about it, and how the world might cope with it.

It’s grown out of recognition of the hammer and nail restrictions humans have and aims to bring together clever people with many different types of hammers (within two broad categories of hammer) to see what alchemy results.

As I wrote earlier on this blog, I’m interested to see what happens in a diverse gathering and whether any workable solutions with tangible results come out of it. That’s my hammer talking: in my head, you do a project for a particular end and then you’re done. I wonder how others will judge a successful Tipping Point conference. How would you?

Image credit: nzgabriel