Radical Incrementalism – without the radical bit

We operate in an organisation with tremendous inertia.  Changing the whole thing feels impossible; changing small parts of it can feel irrelevant.  There are two temptations which come from that.

The first is to look for quick wins.  They can have their place, particularly if they are small parts of a longer whole (even if the whole is not or cannot be fully defined at the outset) and if the whole clearly fits the strategic direction. But it becomes tempting to to do them anyway. Slow leadership thinks this is a bad idea:

Our culture is obsessed with action: for “making things happen.” Thoughtfulness is dismissed as “unrealistic” or “impracticable.” It’s usually rather easy to make something happen; making the right something happen is the tough part. But the dedicated proponent of the quick fix relies on being well away from the danger area long before it becomes clear the action he or she brought about made things worse.

The second problem is almost the reverse of the first. It’s tempting to counter the inertia by the siren call of the doing syllogism:  something must be done; this is something; therefore this must be done.  I was reminded by one counter to that in the comments to the slow leadership post, in one of Einstein’s great one liners:

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.