Not a journey

I had a great meeting yesterday with Jack Martin Leith who has done more thinking about things like innovation and change and is refreshingly cynical about much conventional thinking about both.

For instance, read his latest post about change metaphors in which he puts the boot into the pervasive idea that change is a journey.

The shortcoming of the journey metaphor is that it tends to limit our ability to create results quickly and easily. The metaphor deludes us into thinking we can make a map for getting from A to B. Armed with this delusional map, we embark on what we imagine will be a hazardous journey. We start to foresee all sorts of road blocks that don’t actually exist. We find ourselves believing the milestones we invented are real, and get anxious when they don’t appear on the horizon.

This is good stuff as I think it’s easy to be so future-focussed in discussing change that we are blind to the change happening in front of us right now. And then we lose our sense of agency… which we end up replacing with more anxiety about the future.

For instance: the person in a meeting who chastises people for wandering off brief, and doesn’t notice the chilling effect his harsh words have on people’s willingness to engage openly in future conversation.

Or the person who brands an experiment a failure without noticing that there were some interesting by-products that could be used for something else.

Check out Jack’s list of alternative metaphors for further provocation.

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