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Useless, But Still Kept Up

Useless, But Still Kept Up

Jimmy Guterman
August 29th, 2014

a Thomasson, from the 99% Invisible website

 

We’re podcast listeners here at Collective Next (hey, we have to listen to something while we commute). One of our favorites is 99% Invisible, the Roman Mars-hosted weekly “tiny radio show about design, architecture, and the 99%-invisible activity that shapes our world.”

This week’s episode is particularly fascinating and relevant to our work here. Thomassons are pieces of urban landscapes that no longer serve any discernible purpose yet are still maintained, like staircases that lead nowhere or bannisters without staircases. (We won’t give away here why they’re called Thomassons. It’s a great story, though. Listen to the show and find out.)

The podcast focuses on the physical design aspects of Thomassons, but while listening to the episode we got to thinking about how many organizations have Thomassons, processes that used to be useful but are no more, yet are still kept up. So many organizations, large and small, keep doing things long after they accomplish anything, yet for many reasons we still make sure those processes remain well-oiled. After listening to this show, you may take a moment and consider whether you’re maintaining any Thomassons, whether you’re keeping them up because you haven’t thought to stop, or whether those Thomassons might actually be performing a useful function for you that you’re not aware of. 

P.S. Some of us are podcast makers, too, but we’ll save that for another post …

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