Art of Message

Art of Message – May 11, 2023

The entire universe is reducible to a list

The Checklist Manifesto isn’t about checklists. It’s about managing extreme complexity among multiple actors.

There other ways to deal with this issue – Agile, for example.

But checklists compress the extreme complexity challenge into a smaller, more mentally manageable space. And they make it easier to communicate it.

Just to ground this commentary, examples of such complexity are:

  • The end to end behavior of a multi-step form
  • A SaaS product roadmap, with growth, brand, and product goals balanced
  • Acquiring and assimilating not just a product and its tech stack, but a brand and its workforce

One of the greatest complexities, though, has always been: “how does the world’s leading political, economic, and cultural power present itself to the world?” A lot of work goes into this and a lot of money too.

In other words, one of the greatest complexities has always been messaging

Modern governments struggle with this now, just as ancient ones did, like Babylon nearly 3000 years ago.

We saw this yesterday in looking at the messaging embedded in their map:

  • Babylon sits at the intersection of the world
  • Babylon is a great commercial hub and a center of riches
  • Babylon is a cosmopolitan city of knowledge, learning, artistry
  • Babylon is the most multicultural and multi-linguistic place in the world – you are welcome here

It’s ambitious, magical, it distills extreme complexity into the most manageable pieces. It’s easy to convey. Many different people can “work on it” in collaboration.

It hews perfectly to the spirit of The Checklist Manifesto.

The funny thing is though – at the end of the day it’s just a list.


The message above comes from…
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