Path dependency and boring stuff

The Path by Camil Tulcan, on Flickr under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Disabusing the tendency of people to think only of innovation in public service reform was the focus of two posts last week (“The future is already here” and “An innovation scale”, and will be the subject of at least one more next week.

In the meantime, though, here are two excellent, old-ish posts I’ve re-read recently that are as good as anything on how to actually make change happen.

First, this from Stefan / @pubstrat highlights the importance of “path dependency”:

Every decision and every context in which those decisions are made is the product of what has gone before, even when in another sense they may be radical and innovative. The past is deeply embedded in the present. The choices available today are heavily constrained by the choices made by those who went before us – sometimes a very long time before us. That sometimes makes things complicated which seem as though they should be much simpler, and sometimes means that there is no practical solution even when it seems obvious that one should be possible.

Second, this from Rick at Flip Chart Fairy Tales: In praise of the “boring stuff”:

From what I’ve seen, organisations are rarely short of ideas. It’s the execution of those ideas that’s the problem. Thought leadership is all very well but if there is no-one capable of getting those thoughts off the flip-charts and into reality, they become just another interesting discussion. That’s where [middle managers] come in.

If you have chance, they’re posts certainly worth reading in full.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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