I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So, wrote David Bowie in 1972.
Whenever I think of change these lyrics play in my mind.
Let’s take a position on change – it is essential; critical to the survival of our species – we grow, learn, adapt and change. Yet, within this process is its opposite – the conservative ethos you might call it; the fear of change.
‘Don’t eat those berries, they may look tasty, but remember what happened to…’ (East Africa, 40,000 years ago)
‘Vote for me, I will keep you safe.’ (USA, 18 months ago)
It is the same sentiment.
You are alive now, sure, things may not be great – only having a restricted source of berries to munch is not the best, but, try something different and you might die.
This is fear of change, of doing something different.
And this, I believe has led to the existence of genetic variants (I think I am one of them) – we call them innovators in the 21st Century. Folk who think, ‘Yes, things are OK, but, they could be better.’
If we talk with our enemies instead of building higher walls, we might all be better off; (Trump again), if we sample the local delicacy we might discover a whole new flavour sensation (Umami).
I say this as I sit here at home – yes, I should be at work; but following my return from India at the start of the week my tummy has been upset. Did I eat the wrong thing? Did someone not wash their hands? Was it the water?
The safest option would have been to stay at home; and with this, the organisation could have adopted the current practice that is limiting patient safety across the UK (combination of Brexit and Visa shenanigans) – stay at home, employ locum doctors and hope we get through next winter, or, take the road less travelled (thanks Messrs Frost and Peck) – arrange a trip to India and take staff across to interview all in a three-week window.
I promise I will write more about the trip in forthcoming blogs, for the moment I am more fixated by my tummy.
Anyway, the lesson?
The lesson is to be kind to our innovators, experimenters and, yes, oddballs. Give them time and space, allow them to fail.
Fail and fail fast is a mantra of the quality improvement community – learn from your mistakes, but only by testing new ideas can we progress, by being brave and risking failure/gastroenteritis/immigration do we create possibilities of a world that is better, safer, happier.
What do I take away from this as I sip my full-fat Coke and nibble Salt and Vinegar Pringles (as recommended to me by Christian)? It is probably something not as severe as Nietzsche’s What doesn’t kill you, more like, be kind to those who sit to the left of centre, they might just stumble upon the next Buckminster Fullerene or Helicobacter.