You know those conversations you have in your head that always come across sounding so awesome? Well, here is the start of one that I had in my head a few months back, and a conversation that I wanted to have but you know, at the time it might have been career limiting.

Command-and-control-director: 'You don't know my world. I've worked for 10 years to make my world just right, you can't change it. You don't know the implications of the changes you are suggesting and how it would impact the company.'

Me: 'You're absolutely right. I have no idea of the implications. And on top of that, I have no desire to know or even hear the implications.'

By no means do I claim that this is an original thought - sometimes it is prior knowledge that blinds us from seeing and understanding other opportunities. Once my daughter wanted to take off her shoes and socks and go stand on some wet rocks in this rock pond at an arboretum. It was 50 degrees out and breezy so I tried to convince her otherwise. But she was persistent and I let her. She loved it, she played in there happily skipping around for 30 minutes.

The pond water was heated.

I was basing my decision on prior knowledge. It was cold out and breezy, therefore this shallow water will be cold. Did I stick my hand in the water to test it? No, I knew it was cold.

The pond was heated.

And so we see this in large organizations now. People of high rank that have been around for a long time - they have solved the problems of their world. They have all the experience and the knowledge. When someone challenges them - well, that challenger couldn't possibly understand the cost of such a decision and if they had, they wouldn't be making such outlandish comments. What complicates this situation more is when this type of mentality is tolerated. It leads to a stagnant flow and ultimately to a company unwilling to adopt.

Please don't get my intent wrong - it is completely irresponsible to go about making change for changes sake.  But we cannot live in fear of trying different things...we can't be blinded by previous experience.


The example I gave at the start of this post is real. How should one deal with this scenario? The way I mentioned sounded awesome in my head. But I'm not convinced it is the best. Perhaps it is the difficulty of having that director's perception, but I really believe that he wants empirical data. Change is hard for him to value because he doesn't have metrics and historic examples in his world that he can call up...and that's fine. That's what he needs, and ultimately you have to believe that he wants to do what is best. But that's what he needs and what he knows. Given that, how should I address the situation? Probably with no response. Keep doing the skunk works, show the value in the change until it is too big to ignore, and then help him think it was his idea.

Sometimes the best thing to know is that you don't want to know. You just might find out the pond is heated.