Speed Versus Depth

There are many threats to quality action and behaviour change, but the most persistent and pernicious of these is brevity.

Speed and efficiency are two twins tied to productivity, value, and innovation. At least, in theory.

We have yet to see any substantive value created from a fast, quick fix or rapid change initiative. Change takes time and if we were to recommend anything to prospective clients or those seeking it in their work, this is it.

You can not dodge through the work required to prime people for change and to support them through it.

We can’t speed past a process of innovation development to get a high-quality product faster. There are rare cases where things go much faster than anticipated, but those are just that: rare. No one can design for this.

Better Living Systems

One of the significant issues is that we have to design for living systems. These systems adhere to the laws of complexity. This means we can’t control systems or predict outcomes; we can only create means to influence behaviour and limit the effects of actions on us. Design principles for living systems also require us to account for things like evolution, relationships, network effects, and feedback.

Organizations operate the same way. We see our clients wrestle with the expectations of their boards, staff, funders, and communities for change and have to deal with pressures to do it fast. Yet, we also see the enormous benefits of taking things slower — at the pace of a living system. This allows organizations to learn, reflect, and design their pathway wisely.

Just as we can’t rush growing a garden (even if we wanted to), we can’t do this for organizations and change, either.

We are much like a car driving through the woods; our engine is powerful, and our capacity for speed might be significant. But the journey is beautiful, the leaves are falling, and change is everywhere. If we go too fast we might miss what’s going on.

Image by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

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