Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments


Tools Don't Work

Tools do no work - only human beings do the work

Give a man a tool and he'll go and build himself a tool-shed.

Collecting tools is far easier than finding out how to use them well.

Tools do no work - only human beings do the work. Tools, if well used, just make that work easier.

This simple truth is so easy to forget. Just as men go and buy power tools and gadgets that they will never use - and certainly will never master - so do governments buy into concepts and social innovations that (at best) are only useful tools. But when the state enforces the application of those tools then you can be assured that tool will rarely be used well, and certainly will never be mastered.

Varun tells a story of how he designed a wonderful solar oven to help poor villagers in India. But, when he came back to the villages, where these ovens were to be used, he found that people were simply using the ovens as cupboards. This was not from stupidity - cupboards was what they really needed.

Ultimately the value of a tool does not lie in its use but in the outcomes it achieves. It is only by looking at things from the perspective of our real needs and aspirations that the true value of a tool will be discovered.

Sadly, concepts like Personalisation, Individual Budgets, Self-Directed Support, Person-Centred Planning, and so many other attractive and often useful concepts, are all now tainted by the mindless enthusiasm of government. By making someone use a tool (especially a tool that you do not understand yourself) you guarantee that it will be either obsolete or put to an entirely different use.