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Our ability to design has been a pivotal part of our evolution and survival as a species. In Denis Dutton’s radical speech on beauty, he outlines how these hand axes were more likely used to slay chicks than dinner. Apparently design chops were every bit as important 100 million years before we could speak, as they are today.

As always Wikipedia is much better at explaining this stuff…

Marek Kohn and Steven Mithen have independently arrived at the explanation that symmetric handaxes have been favored by sexual selection as fitness indicators.[8] Kohn in his book As we know it wrote that the handaxe is “a highly visible indicator of fitness, and so becomes a criterion of mate choice.”[9] Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller follows on their example and has said that handaxes have characteristics which make them suitable for being subject to sexual selection forces, such as that they were made for over a million years throughout Africa, Europe and Asia, they were made in large numbers, and most were impractical for utilitarian use. He says that a single design persisting across such a span of time and space cannot be explained by cultural imitation and draws a parallel between bowerbirds’ bowers (built to attract potential mates and used only during courtship) and Pleistocene hominids’ handaxes. He calls handaxe building a “genetically inherited propensity to construct a certain type of object.” He discards the idea that they were used as missile weapons as there were more efficient weapons at the time, such as javelins, and although he accepts that some handaxes may have been used for practical reasons, he agrees with Kohn and Mithen who have shown that many handaxes show a considerable degree of skill, design and symmetry beyond the demands for utility, some were too big (such as the handaxe found in Furze Platt, England which is over a foot long) or too small (less than two inches, therefore of little practical use), they feature symmetry far beyond practical use and show evidence for excessive attention to form and finish. Miller thinks that the most important clue is that most handaxes show no signs of use or evidence of edge wear under electron microscopes. Furthermore, handaxes can be good handicaps in Amotz Zahavi’s handicap principle theory: the learning costs are high, there are risks of injury, they require physical strength, hand-eye coordination, planning, patience, pain tolerance, and resistance to infection from cuts and bruises when making or using such a handaxe. [10]

No bosses | No defined teams | No top-down hiarchy

Valve, a company responsible for some of the most ground breaking games over the last 20 years, released its handbook for new employees earlier this year. A friend of ours pointed us to this document in response to our handbook (which is still and will probably always be, in its beta form). Outlined in it are many beliefs and principles that we have also coincedently adhered to since day one; self direction, mobile work environments, entrepreneurial spirit, zero barriers to the client, no titles or defined roles and the importance of a healthy work / life balance. This is a great read for any business looking to streamline and engage their team and clients in new and exciting ways. Enjoy!