Posted by: Don Linnen | 29 August 2010

Rapid Change vs. Slow Growth

Change is coming. It’s constant and it’s fast. Some folks embrace change; most do not.

John Maxwell, leadership guru and author said that after a great achievement, often there is the celebration and sigh of relief followed closely by the question: now what? To not ask that question can be dangerous. The river keeps flowing. Rapid change continues. My old blog, “So What’s Next?” reflects on how some people prepare for the unknown.

In my ten years as a volunteer counselor at Camp John Marc, I watched a master change a good children’s camp into a great children’s camp. Camp Director Vance Gilmore wisely and patiently moved with “baby steps” to adapt and improve CJM every year. The change each year was barely noticeable. After a decade of steady, consistently good decisions, I witnessed a positive and remarkable evolution.

Earlier this month, I began working for an organization not known for rapid change. They almost pride themselves in a culture that expects you to ask for permission rather than beg for forgiveness.

That is counterintuitive to anyone who has worked in the high-tech world where change is measured by 18-month product cycles. Most of my “old” high-tech companies no longer exist. My new organization is over a century old. What makes something last so long?

Seth Godin wrote a recent blog on Resilience and the Incredible Power of Slow Change. His conclusion is astute:

“Don’t worry about what happened yesterday (or five minutes ago). Focus on what happened ten years ago and think about what you can do that will make a huge impact in six months. The breaking news mindset isn’t just annoying, it may be distracting you from what really matters. As the world gets faster, it turns out that the glacial changes of years and decades are becoming [sic] more important, not less.”

As my dad would have said, “strong trees grow slowly.” He was right.

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