The zero approach

The zero approach

Insight from Scott Cooper in a conversation with Charlie Rose on designing for people:

I attended the Robert Duvall school of acting and directing. One of his directions to me was “Start at zero and end at zero.” Really have no idea where the scene is going to take you. (6:37)

Jeff Bridges joins the conversation to explain why this is good advice:

One of the traps — and it probably goes across the board for other arts — but in acting you’ll maybe take the first take, and it’s very fresh. And you’ll say wow, that felt like real life! So now let’s recreate that, and do it again. That’s the trap. What you have to do is get back to zero. Get emptiness, so that thing can happen again.

Sometimes designing social systems isn’t entirely unlike being a director who lets go. There’s an element of trust. Of being fearless enough to let people’s own version come forward. As people who design frameworks, allow others to discover without having an end goal in sight. As Werner Herzog has said about a scene, “If it’s too perfect, then I’ll hate it,” He lets the ecstatic truth come out.