Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't change

I have never been good at physics. No physician nor physicist, I. I trust that if I drop something, it will hit the floor. If I pull something, it might move. If I change the batteries, the remote will do some magic and allow me to stop watching Dance Moms.

But I do know inertia. Inertia is the single most powerful force in the universe. I find it in all areas of my life and I know that there is a temptation to criticize it. Inertia prevents change, people complain. And you know what? I think that that is often true. But here's the kicker -- change isn't always good. Sometimes inertia protects us from the kinds of changes that we just don't need.

Change is useful when there is either a demonstrated problem with the way things are, or a demonstrated advantage to the newer way for things to be. Bottom line, if it isn't broken, one need not fix it unless it can be shown that the fix will improve an working system and make it more efficient or successful. It just rolls off the tongue.

However, I have found that in many contexts, there is a drive to change. We must, the pundits say, keep moving forward or else we die. Like the shark. (Based on movies and media coverage I think that maybe some dead sharks would be a good thing...) I disagree, sort of. We are always moving forward, but often doing so without changing. We are always growing and constantly have the opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve but we can usually keep the baby and even some of the bathwater.

I feel this way about technology. It is a fun toy most of the time. Occasionally, it fixes a problem and becomes a vital way of operating: the new status quo. But often it provides a new way of doing things which is not much better than the old way. If might be markedly different but that doesn't make it good, nor make the old way bad. Feel free to apply this philosophy to any institutional, professional or other context in which you think it works. It does.

I'm not advocating stagnancy, or even claiming that stagnancy is a word. I am a believer in caution and measured response, plus incremental change. I am usually risk averse (not Risk averse though) but not because I don't like to try something new. I just need to be shown why the old way is demonstrably wrong before I jump towards the devil I don't know. I am no Luddite, nor a Luddlite (more technology, fewer calories), just someone who thinks that we can, in many milieus become better, sharper and more efficient without abandoning anything or making foolhardy leaps simply as "change gratis change."

I embrace change. As long as it doesn't require that I get up to do so. There was nothing wrong with sitting.

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