Let it go
“Novelty … it’s as old as the hills”
I spotted the opening quote to this post in the subtitles accompanying Marcel Carné’s film, Les Enfants du Paradis. It sprang to my mind once again as I sat down to write this belated reflection on the Workplace Trends conference in London a month ago, back in October.
Neil Usher (@workessence) had kindly invited me to be part of the Workstock section of the conference programme, where a bunch of reprobates – erm, I mean ‘subject experts’ – were invited to contribute a pecha kucha (twenty presentation slides, each twenty seconds).
A swipe at hype
My contribution was ‘Never Mind The Bollocks: A Swipe at Hype’. Neil had suggested I speak about my observations on the continuing relevance of the legacy of insight from the last major shift in working practices, from traditional manufacturing to process improvement and restructuring approaches that included quality, lean, just-in-time, cellular configurations and agile manufacturing.
These approaches have customer focus, whole workforce involvement, innovation as everyone’s responsibility and collaborative problem solving at their core. But as I spoke and afterwards, I felt very uncomfortable. What’s the point of bleating on about the past when no-one’s listening? And if I am boring myself, it’s a sure bet I’m boring other people.
Command and control still the status quo
So when Stuart Snelling (@stuart_snelling) wrote his blog post reflecting on the conference and called it Let it go, I momentarily blushed. Oh God, someone else is saying it’s time to move on. Now is not then. Of course that’s not what Stuart’s post was about.
He’s thinking about “why the Command & Control status quo is the way it is” and that “it is the illusion of certainty that is underpinning the status quo; the fallacy that we are masters of our own destiny and can control, determine, and even guarantee, work outcomes whether they are financial or operational.”
It’s also an exaggeration that no-one’s listening. I’m honoured that Stuart listens to what I and other systems thinkers, especially John Seddon, say and finds value in it.
Time to move on
But it is time to move on and try to see things afresh. If there is a legacy of insight as I’m claiming, people will find it for themselves. This reminds me of an occasion in a past employment in a university. I was saying to one of the professors how exasperating I found it that so much potentially useful research with practical application lay buried in academic journals.
My wise colleague told me that people will pick things up if you leave them lying around. The excitement of discovery is theirs. And then they’ll run with the ideas and take the risk of putting them into practice. I need to find new ways of leaving things lying around, fresh ways of making old ideas attractive. Now that’s going to challenge my creativity!