The first day of school is a rough time, regardless of the year being entered into. Some years are obviously worse than others, but on the whole they really encompass absolute nervousness. Even being one of a the so-called popular kids has its hiccups when it comes to that day, or that morning anyway. The feel could potentially last only fifteen seconds or upwards of several months, but it is there. You are putting doubt into your choices, your own lifestyle, all because the environment around you is yelling that reality is not going to wait forever and this is the best place to get yourself prepared.
It does not take a genius to know that reality can be a harsh mistress. School is the first place that tries to explain that to you by way of a series of around 180 days a year that are meant to be almost completely out of your control. You may make some tangential decisions about your education and the rest is just politics and the whims of whomever stands at the front of the class.
Choosing to not learn is not an option.
This is your reality, and whether you believe it or not it does prepare you for the job world, just maybe not in the way most educators intend it to. It does, however, prepare you amazingly well for the fact that reality is a freight train and does not care if you are standing on the tracks. You will get flattened, no ifs, ands, or buts.You do not always have the choice to make a choice, if that makes sense. Life is going to push you hard, and whether you have two years, two months, two days, or two seconds to make a decision, sometimes no amount of time is fast enough to make the right choice. The first day of your life is full of choices you have no clue are even taking place (as you are a newborn) but could invariably effect you for the rest of your existence.
The first day on a job is a rough time, regardless of the job entering into. Yes, this sounds eerily familiar, but almost everything that applies to school applies to jobs and careers. Unabashed and absolute nervousness coursing through your very soul, even if you are outwardly as comfortable as any veteran you pass in the hallway. Nobody wants to experience this, but everyone does, and everyone will for as long as their is a reality to exist in. You will make decisions that may seem like molehills and turn into mountains before you can blink, and it will leave you forever climbing and forever pushing that rock to no real destination, no satisfaction, and no purpose.
That is reality, and it hurts. It will wake you up in the middle of the night stealing away your ambition and laughing in the face of the decisions you thought you made that you hope desperately are actually shaping your life. Totally flattened, bent across the tracks, no chance of survival. I am not sure exactly where all of this is coming from, honestly, but when I say I look at processes, it is really what I do. Sadly, processing processes has left me staring at a void that makes me physically ill, emotionally ill, the void inside the void.
I have been asked why I care about education, or why I care about business or video games or anything else that tumbles from my brain and through my fingers or out of my mouth. I don’t know why I care. Honestly. I see places for improvement and I want the world to know that improvement is possible. I do not want to see generations upon generations of static with no change, no growth, and an entire population of people who feel the same way I did on the first day of school or the first day at my new job, but instead of standing under an oak tree with a bright orange backpack or by a water cooler trying to look like you belong they run the place!
I don’t want a future run by rookies, run by nervousness, run by tangential decisions that for all intents and purposes mean absolutely nothing. No one wants that, but that is what we are getting. The assembly line of child-to-adult has created a large, overpowering monster of people who will do anything to fit in or look like they belong even without knowing exactly what is actually needed to fit in and what is actually desired by that mistress Reality. This is not in any way meant to be pretentious, pompous, or soapbox shouting. I’ve just been staring through that void and having deep conversations with existence (no drugs involved; you can do it, too) and what I see is bleak and closing in on the border between being able to be on the train and being run over by the train. I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the train. Once I am there, then that, more than anything other day I’ve lived, will be the real first day of my life.
Judging by the various stats WordPress sends me every day, it seems that Outcome Based Education is a real hot button issue for quite a few people, and somehow they are stumbling upon my site (though how much usefulness they are receiving is questionable, I’m sure). The title of this particular post is somewhat misleading, I think, but I could think of no better way than to explain just what I feel is needed in education than to look at the two big types of learning and then talk about the third, the Unique Education, which is just a name I made up because it sounds like something someone important would use in their nomenclature.
Remember that input, or traditional education, is all about what resources the student has placed at their disposal and that outcome based education is geared more toward looking at a student’s performance as the factor in deciding how worthy they are of being granted passing marks on a subject. Both of these types of educational system have their pros and cons, and neither is close to perfect, but I do enjoy that there is at least some form of competitiveness between learning styles, even if the input model holds an incredible lead over everything else.
Resources are something that should be focused on, but who is to say that a student’s performance does not matter just as much if not more? One can truly have every resource readily available to them and still be a failure in the classroom. So do be blame the resources for the failure or do we blame the child? Usually, teachers and parents alike will look at the child for having missed the golden ring. Often times, the child did miss it, but only because where he was looking for the ring and where the ring actually was were two entirely different places. I might be getting a little too metaphorical at this point, but I think this is valid stuff. No one wants to have the blame for the failure of a child placed on them, especially the child. They could have worked themselves harder than they ever have in their young lives and still not mastered a subject because their work was going in all the wrong directions. While teachers, parents, politicians, psychologists, sociologists, and many others know all too well that students acquire and process information in numerous different ways, it takes a lot of finger-pointing, threatening, and many other apparently unseemly acts to get a teacher to go through the trial and error to find what helps a child best.
Honestly, this is not the right answer. The time is takes for someone to recalibrate an entire year’s worth of goals and form them specifically to every single student they teach is probably more time than any one (or even two) teacher(s) have in a school year. It is just not possible for the learning experience to be as unique as it needs to be to meet the demands of the general populous. However, this does not mean that we should suddenly dump funding into the system to afford to have enough teachers to cover all the bases, nor does it mean that the potential gains of being 100% unique is far, far outweighed by the need to be “just good enough”. To a student, to a parent, to anyone involved in the shaping of a child’s future – “good enough” is simply not good enough. It is a line in the sand we have stayed with for far too long, letting even those barely limping across the line move up to the next scheduled checkpoint with the rest of their knowledge platoon. Don’t know how to do what they do? “Fall back! Retreat! We’ll carry you on our backs for the next six years and get you that piece of paper that you so rightfully ‘deserve’!” Education is no place for M.A.S.H. units, regardless of their hilarious mid-surgery quips and rambunctious behavior.
Let’s face it – we simply do not have the manpower, willpower, or funding to make every child an encyclopedia of reality. It is, and most likely always will be, an impossibility, right up there with time travel in a flying 1980s lift-back sports car. I have said it before and I will undoubtedly say it many, many times for years and years to come: I want to change the world, and if I had the ability to only change one thing and that change could happen with no repercussions or serious implementation problems, this would be it. I want to see everyone be able to get the education that they should be destined to get rather than be forced to suffer for and settle with.
I know I opened the last post with a nice little history lesson on the FPS genre, and while I originally wanted to do the same this time for RPGs, I decided that if anyone is having a problem understanding what I am talking about that Google and Wikipedia would gladly answer any questions related to the aesthetics of the genre.
However, I say that to say this: the almost universally-used first step in any RPG is to create a character, in a way. In some instances there is no real up front choice to be made, but invariably there will come a time during the game where you will be a part of a group (or party) with varying degrees of strengths and weaknesses. Usually this involves having team members that are physically strong but may have little to no magic training while also courting a high powered wizard that is built like a trash bag stuffed with twigs and covered in glittery stars. Not only does this help to provide balance, it allows the player to create each character as they see fit to best complete the game’s objectives.
In the world of business, both company and employee alike are by design carrying out a role. The employee fills a role for the company, which in turn tries to fill a role in the market. Just like in the game, both parties are constantly evaluating their role based on experience and potential future battles. If one knows they are going up against someone with no weakness to magic, it would be a highly unwise decision to throw your tiny but omnipotent mage in there. His skills are better served elsewhere.
I know it is also not always possible to fit into only one role. They team you are on may be looking for balance more than sheer power or genius. In fact, even if they are looking for those lopsided attributes it is always good to have at least one person around that can be slotted into as many situations as is necessary. Some might think that by saying that I am suggesting that everyone should be balanced, but that is absolutely not the case. Too much balance can eventually created drastically unbalanced challenges. The key is in harnessing the proper strengths and putting all resources into those first, ignoring the weaknesses for what they are.
No one person is good (or even average) at everything. Flaws will always exist because without them there is no real way to judge what a strength is. But flaws themselves are not all bad, as they can help steer someone into a more focused path. By acknowledging what it is we do unwell it is easier to notice the things we do well. That sort of focus can give a person the best rewards from nothing more than experience.
In RPG terms, Experience is incredibly important. It is the building block on which great heroes are forged. The amount of experience one accrues is usually closely tied to how much time has been spent playing the game. The longer time spent yields much higher experience and skill, just as in about any work done in real life (though most people do not have the ability to affix a numerical value to it).
If one could give their everyday tasks that kind of value it would not take long to see how a workflow builds certain skills. Learning what your work produces on a metaphysical level can help streamline old (and construct new) workflows to expand or hone your skillset and set future goals. If you can understand your own competency builders it makes it much easier to adapt once new environments and situations arise. Of course, this is much more difficult in reality that in a game world, as there are not always visual cues available to point you in the direction. The game has a story already built inside of it, while your existence is being created as you live it.
Sometimes, though, that game story can throw curveballs in the form of lost, missing, or momentarily distracted team members. This can leave you tackling large chunks of gameplay without a character you have built up to compliment the rest of your team. Reality can similarly get in the way of teamwork – by vacation, illness, injury, or anything else can leave your team shorthanded and potentially much weaker than it should be.
What can be done about this? Balance is the key. As stated above, there is always a good reason to have some percentage of a team be balanced. It may be one or two characters in a game or any number of people in reality. Should a stronger team member in one position be away, the balanced person can fill the spot maybe not to the same level but more so than an employee in another department (or even a new employee) could do because of the lack of experience. It should not even be a worry if a balanced team member is off fighting their own personal battles, as long as all of the brutes, wizards, healers, etc. are doing their duties all will turn out right in the world, experience will be gained, skills will be put to the test and come out stronger than before, and maybe you will find yourself moving just one more step closer to the victory you may not even know you are looking for, but is just on the other side of the horizon waiting for you, the pesky challenger, to capture it for yourself.
The First-Person Shooter genre has been around since the mid 1980s, but only really came into popular culture in 1992 with the release of Wolfenstein 3D from id Software. The game itself was based on two earlier computer games that fell into the genre of ‘stealth’, which was far from the case for this maze-like romp through a Nazi-infested castle en route to defeating Hitler. The original version was released to the masses as shareware, which as the name suggests is free and available to be shared as much as the consumer so chooses. This no doubt helped its popularity, as by the time it was released commercially it had already gained a following. Even today the game is still popular enough to warrant numerous releases on current generation systems.
For the next few years the genre was expanded with other popular titles such as Doom and Marathon with both following a similar graphical path as Wolfenstein but adding in features that still exist today. The mid-90s rise of three dimensional graphic capability and the fledgling internet beginning to gain more mainstream appeal, it was the beginning of what most modern players would consider the foundation of what they consider the genre to exist as today. From these two improvements came Quake, also from id Software, which while having a single-player campaign was heralded for its use of cross-server multiplayer gameplay. Continuing enhancements in both video quality and the internet led to the genre becoming extremely popular, especially due to the multiplayer aspects. Until the mid-to-late 90s it was almost unheard of to be able to play any sorts of computer (or console) games without having someone in the room with you. With computer games it was made even more difficult by the need to have use of a large part of the keyboard and mouse to play the game in the first place. Adding the ability for players around the world to come together in a way that at the time was almost completely impossible through home consoles (XBand, the earliest online network for consoles, existed for around three years in the middle of the decade but was never popular, featuring around 7,000 subscribers amongst over forty million consoles in North America alone).
When a current gamer hears the term ‘multiplayer’, this is the genre most will think of straight away. It is also the genre that can give the most to the business world. While some game-types amongst the platform are solely “be the best” (Free-for-All, for one), many revolve around working together as a team to accomplish a goal. Almost everyone that has joined a game and played more than a handful of sessions will have seen a team full of people who are stuck in “be the best” mode rather than “win” mode. Some would say that by being the best you will win, but these two are not as correlated as they seem. Obviously there are times when one guy or two guys on a team of four or six could potentially carry the team to victory, but there are also times when these one or two are as much of a hindrance as they perceive themselves to be a help. In some situations, they are quite aware that they are not being a help to the team, but have kept themselves safe in the firefight, picking their moments to strike and dropping back into the shadows, caring more about their own statistics rather than the team itself.
Granted, it would be wise to note that team in this case is almost always “random collection of people” instead of “well oiled machine”, and with no personal link to tie these people together it becomes much easier to fall back on self-preservation than a relentless pushing forward for a notch in the win column. I am quite understanding of that. Businesses can work the same way, except in reality there are personal links to be forged and the clans that populate servers are virtual friend lists are much easier to come by and be a part of. Those working in a kitchen will be hard-pressed to be in a position very long if they do not fall in line with the rest of the team. But that is a kitchen, a place where teamwork is not so much asked for but impossible to not have, and I am more perplexed by the workplaces where teamwork is not exactly necessary but the positives far outweigh the negatives (and yet still are resisted).
Resistance could come from any number of places and for a staggering list of reasons, almost all of them personal and about as well thought out as a kindergarten thesis proposal. Sometimes it does center on that perception of self-preservation, not so much in the life-or-death sense (or even the hire-or-fire sense) but the idea that being a part of the team means having to do a little more work than one would like to. I know that not everyone is in a position or job that they find desirable, but what follows in the unwritten contract of “you do x and I pay you” is that sometimes you actually have to do x (and possibly y and z) in order to make it through the day. Failing to do so causes the people that are doing x to look at you with the sort of contempt that a gamer might place on that one guy they are playing with who decides to run repeatedly into the cross-fire rather than wait for the right opportunities (or worse hangs back and watches everyone else get trapped with no remorse). In games, one simply has to push a few buttons to find another team, while reality places much harsher penalties and restraints on those who find themselves part of a bad team and wishes to escape.
Other times, however, the resistance can come from the team looking to the leader (or in gaming, the person who is yelling the loudest) and finding that their decisions are not in the best interest of the team as a whole. This can cause an entirely different kind of dissension, especially if the team actually does want to do their best and get the wins they feel they deserve. While in gaming the leader is right there on the battlefield with everyone else, businesses are not usually set up to put the supervisor onto the front lines to suffer with the people they are leading. Worse yet are situations where the supervisor is nothing more than a messenger to someone even higher up, a person who knows just enough about the battle in question to feel they have the right to make decisions, even if the decisions themselves are in no way grounded in reality. Without that bit of communication to the team, a well-meaning supervisor is left with a large amount of resistance pushed back on them for something they too are trying to push back onto the Generals hiding away in the officer’s tents.
Is there a right answer to be found anywhere? If the pros of working together are better than the cons, then surely teamwork is the proper stance to take on the matter. It just needs to be done in a way that allows everyone else to see the greater good. Being a part of a bad team may mean longer and harder work hours for yourself to cover the ground they are seemingly unable to cover, or it could even be that miscommunication has led the team’s goals to be forgotten or misconstrued in a way that is causing way more harm than is apparent. Sometimes it is simply a need to hit the actually unnecessary goals that causes the problems in achieving the necessary ones. If half a team believes speed to be the metric by which they are based and half the team believes it to be quality, there will inevitably come a time where one group is upset at the other group for how there workflow is affecting everyone else. In the multiplayer genre, some game-types revolve around capturing property or holding territory for a certain period of time. If part of your team is more focused on keeping themselves alive rather than the mostly low-risk of eating a few bullets for the sake of defense, it can cause breakdowns that in most cases can and will lead to defeat. If you consider skill in gaming to be on a bell curve, it is fair to say that on any given team there is a fairly average number of skilled players. Having one or two people shy away from the team causes an imbalance that is usually insurmountable. All it takes is one person to change the dynamic of a game, and business can be the same way, provided that one person is skilled enough to lead the team in the right direction rather than retreat at the first sign of an offensive strike against them.
It always helps to know the rules for victory, no matter what the situation. If you have goals that are the absolute top priority to your business, those need to be communicated in the clearest way possible with all other variables accounted for as they arise. If a teammate remarks that hitting a certain goal will lower their speed or increase their average job time, find out exactly what the metrics are for those statistics and then decide if it is worth fighting for them when they have not been addressed as important enough to warrant inclusion in the original plans. If one finds that some goals are becoming an unwanted or unneeded detriment to projects, find someone to discuss the reasons behind the goals, and how your workflow is impacted by them being in place. Sometimes rules are put in place because they seem like the right thing to do or they seem like they should be important or necessary without the proper observation or planning being commissioned. If repeated tests show that a given task is taking a noticeable percentage longer than first thought, and that percentage is consistent, it may be wise to speak up to whomever is in charge of the project and work out some sort of compromise or redaction to those rules for victory. While no victory should be easy to obtain, the army that spends its time shooting itself in the foot will never even get out of the fort before being overwhelmed.
So that is what we learn from the world of first-person shooters and especially the multiplayer genre. Build a team, build a plan, execute, reload. Know the rules and victory will always be possible. Insert random G.I. Joe reference here.
What follows is a piece (or the start of a piece) I have been doing some work on over the past few days. It repeats a few things I have stated elsewhere on this site but still covers ground well outside the realm of the educational system. It is currently where I have myself focused and, as you will see, all started with a simple question.
Like every project, it started with a question. “What can businesses, and by extension employees, learn from video games?” And like most people in their late 20s, I have been both a video game player and employed. I have also seen that many people act either incredibly similar to or incredibly different between the real world they live and work in and the virtual world they have decided to play in.
I left the womb to analyze. It is probably why I was born seven weeks early. The whole “nine months” thing was incredibly inefficient for creating life. Some insects can do that stuff in less than a few hours. They know how reality works. It works fast. If you do not believe that all it takes is to watch the faces of your parents or grandparents as you try to show them how to use any modern video game controller (or worse a keyboard for gaming).
Obviously I am not here to analyze the human birthing cycle. Analytical brains wish to analyze, yes, but they wish to focus on something that they feel is important to their own life. While I am not some professional gamer (it is quite possible that I could live without them as far as personal interaction goes), I am still a professional something. Everyone with a job is technically a professional, even if it is nothing more than being a professional burger flipper or soda jerk. What I want to analyze is games, and what I want to apply that analysis to is business (hence the opening question).
Games, from the standpoint of an agreed upon definition, are fun. They are meant to elicit a sense of happiness and maybe even a bit of competitive spirit. Competition itself can lead to unhappiness and total non-fun, especially if you happen to be on the losing end of the equation and the winning end does so well at the task of winning that it is as if your role in their victory was only slightly above the level of spectator. Here, have some uniforms and halfhearted well-wishes. You are barely a speed bump to the steamroller.
But inside that competitive spirit, games can show us who we really are. Even the most self-described complex mind can be broken down to the basics in just a few rounds of Poker, a few rolls of the Monopoly die, or even a complete level on the newest platform game or first-person shooter. Video games are especially good at showcasing a distilled form of reality. I say distilled because it just so happens to be wrapped in a big virtual tarp all of the time and people tend to disagree about the need to look beneath it for any real value. After all, it is just a game.
Many people tend to look at a good bit of their existence as just a game, but will oddly enough treat actual games with a, to the uninitiated outside observer, completely unwarranted amount of seriousness and drive. It does not even have anything to do with competition. It may have something to do with obsession or compulsion (or both) but to those that exist on a similar wavelength they understand exactly why some people have no problem immersing themselves in a virtual space and forging a ‘new’ identity to live in.
When I say “new” with the quotations I feel I must explain myself. There are legitimately only two kinds of person you can be. You can be yourself or you can create a new persona that has as little to do with you as possible. Those are your only options. Okay, that is not completely fair. You can technically be yourself but under an alias, although that is more a form of wanting to showcase yourself without losing any perceptions of personal privacy. It could even just be that your true opinions could be a little jarring to those close to you, and anonymity is a simpler answer than the emotional baggage that comes with being seen as ‘wrong’, ‘awful’, ‘misguided’, or any other such adjectives by the people you are closest too.
I don’t have any reason to chastise, demean, or begrudgingly shake my fist at someone who wishes to have a false identity on the internet (except for cases of theft), so I will leave that entire issue alone. If you want to lie, go ahead and lie. Life will still move on and you will still be whomever you are in the reality that actually matters (not to say that the internet doesn’t matter…you get my point). Remembering what matters is one of the best starting points anyone can have when it comes to deep thought.
Let’s get deep. Video games are around four decades old, with what was considered the first generation of gaming occurring in 1971, however it is the human generation born more in the late 70s and early 80s that have come to consider themselves the first to grow up along with the industry. This is especially true for those born in 1980, who found themselves in potential possession of the Nintendo Entertainment System as it first hit shelves and with them at an age where they could begin to understand how to use it. In today’s world, it is almost preposterous that a three year old child could even begin to use the consoles that exist, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that they could be handed the two button NES or even the one red button of the Atari 2600 and be able to become competent enough to find joy in the device, even if they aren’t exceptionally good at evading the ghosts, ostriches, or asteroids presented to them.
We now sit in the seventh generation of the home console, and needless to say the evolution that has taken place would have been almost unimaginable in the mid 80s. In some respects it would have been seen as crazy even into the mid 90s. The amount of technology that has gone into what is primarily a distraction is mind-boggling, but it also shows just how much people want to see the industry stay alive and see it continue to push boundaries. We want our distractions to be as good as possible, or else they are not exactly distractions.
It is an industry, distractions. Almost any form of primarily sedentary observational entertainment can be considered a distraction by someone (usually a supervisor, teacher, or other such person of influence) and are almost always vilified for any number of reasons. Even simply watching a sporting event live can become a target due to the potential for riots or fan-on-fan violence that has the possibility to occur when heated rivalries and alcohol are mixed together.
But I am not as concerned with the other distraction-potential industry as I am with the industry of video games. And even inside of that, I am not so much talking about the production part as I am the actual use of the products by the grovelling and needy public. Almost everyone that falls in the previously-mentioned generation has played some kind of video game, be it a console – Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, on some kind of computer, or through the world wide web (not to mention arcades, they are a dying breed thanks to the other three).
Games themselves are a tremendous part of popular culture. The simple fact that some games can have launch parties, record breaking pre-orders that would rival most other entertainment platforms, and an almost innumerable amount of written and visual material devoted to breaking down every aspect of every game, system, and company that has ever existed is something that would be seen as unthinkable twenty years ago. This is not even counting all that is devoted to fans discussing other fans (and non-fans), because it is close to impossible to have someone like something without someone else disliking it. Being a player is no longer putting you in the minority or attaching a stigma to your personality (in most instances). The sheer amount of games that are making their way to shelves rated “Mature” or “Adult” is more than enough evidence of this. As much as media watchdog and censorship groups wish to curttail the creation of such games, the percentages are becoming more in favor of the adult gamer. Sure, some of the objectives these mature games present might be nothing more than showcasing needless violence, but if there was not a market for such a game then it simply would not exist or would be forgotten by gamers lone before being forgotten by the people who shout from the rooftops to forget it in the first place.
Even people that hate video games realize they have an influence on society. What they seem to fail to realize is how much society influences video games. Again you can look at the influx of the “M” rating as a good indicator that society is spending money on that rating, though the reasons that they do so are varied. Oddly enough, there is also a social push towards the so-called ‘casual’ market. This market sees games as simply games. One might say that the point of a game is to be a game, but I (and others) know that gaming can be incredibly educational.
It is just this sort of education I wish to analyze. I started with a question, and have found that there are quite a few answers to be found, as none of them are perfect. As with gaming, actions and reactions in business are entirely situational, almost trapped in their own little niches. What a Forbes 100 technology company implements could be staggeringly different from what a five-person neighborhood landscaping company implements, but as I talk from genre to genre I have found rules, if one wishes to define them as such, that are broad enough to make sense for almost any business. That is not to say they can not be modified for specific uses or departments, but that is in no way their true purpose. Just as their is no absolute true purpose for gaming, businesses and employees are meant to (and sometimes forced to) evolve along with society. I just want to make that evolution as easy as possible.
I have a lot of ideas. If you knew me, you would of course see this as the most obvious statement I could ever make. I have covered this very blog in tons of ideas on topics I mostly know almost nothing about. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before, too. You will hear (read) it a lot when you come around. I’m going to rattle off a few more things I tend to say a good bit about myself, usually in some random order but almost always together: I am highly analytical, I don’t know what to do with myself, I feel like my thoughts have merit.
There you go, three driving brainwaves all shoved together, five if you count my love of churning out ideas for things that I’m almost in no way educated to postulate on. This is what our entire world is based on. Everything had to start somewhere, and if you go back each knowledge tree far enough you will find someone who had no clue what they were doing and suddenly stumbled upon something that changed the world. I feel like all of those people. I’m sure there are many others that do, too. But, I also feel different. I am sincerely not trying to create some new subject or new tree of knowledge to find mental shade beneath – far from it. I know that nobody is perfect. I know that no one system or way of doing things is perfect, and I feel that at least ninety percent of the way people do things is more flawed than it should be. To be more blunt about it – It could be that you are doing something wrong, and while my solution might not erase every problem, it has the potential to be better. It also has the potential to be worse, but as I have stated on this blog times before change can be a good thing even if it’s not the right change. Anything can be fixed or dialed backwards (except time, of course). So, if I think I have a solution and it does worse than what was happening previously, go back to what you did previously with the knowledge of one idea that wasn’t right that could very well open the door for other ideas that could work in the future.
I am a proponent of change, because the world is meant to change. It does change. It constantly and naturally changes. It even unnaturally changes – technologies change, ideologies change, goals change – but sometimes they change without anything else changing to support it. This is how Empty Nest Syndrome evolves in parents. The experience their lives with their children and one day the children aren’t there anymore. That’s a huge change. And maybe those children don’t communicate with their parents as much as they should, or maybe their parents are expecting more communication than they should, and problems develop. Companies can have variations of ENS, as well, especially when the employees feel that the change is a direct slap in their face because it affects the way they have always done their job. If it was always a part of someone’s job to sort mail, and suddenly a machine can do it, they might still have a hundred other tasks each day to do but having that one taken away, especially if it was a more low-impact and less mentally draining part of the day, can do horrible things to their work psychology and philosophy. Someone out there, a higher up they possibly have never met, just replaced them with a machine. It’s heartbreaking. They may adjust eventually, sure, and find that not doing that part of the job has freed up time to do things that are more meaningful, but letting that sink in takes time.
Everyone needs time for change. Almost nothing goes smoothly when “we have to change everything!” suddenly becomes the MO of a person, regardless of who they are or what they are changing. It could be as simple as changing their morning routine to go jogging. Those first few weeks of foot mileage are going to be awful, painful, and many times they are going to want to quit and get that extra hour of sleep. But for those that keep it up and have the desire to make it work will find that maybe (just maybe) getting an hour of running in makes the rest of their day that more energetic and easier to deal with a boss that just decided that everyone is using the wrong e-mail client or has just had the brilliant idea to have all meetings by teleconference even though everyone knows that will make things worse and just gives him an excuse to get a few extra games of Solitaire in before lunch. But is anyone going to point that out? No way! Career suicide!
Even though I advocate change, this is definitely a big problem. Someone wants a change, but it serves as a complete hindrance to everyone but themselves. Whether you want to make a personal change or one that affects a million people, two things everyone needs are feedback and collaboration. It is up to the person to decide if what they get from those two categories is worthwhile, but you should at least still accept them. Change is not a one man army. Ideas are especially not a one man army. Almost every ‘a-ha!’ someone has, any piece of innovation someone wants to create, is because they feel something should be changed in some way. It could be a process, a product, whatever…it is all about change. If I have an idea to read a certain book, it is usually because I have heard about the book and feel it would be good for me to read it. Even the most humdrum of fictional tale-weaving has some kind of information inside it that can be useful, even if it is nothing more than how a writer envisioned people handling a situation. It could be a situation you have never had, but one day it could happen, and you can say “oh, I remember how it worked out for those fictional characters, so maybe that will work for me.” and it could work! It also could fail epically, but then you would learn something from that failure. (duh)
So, what is all of this rambling on about, anyway? I guess it all boils down to one phrase. “I have ideas.” Everyone does. All you have to do is ask.