The last eight months has been a bit of an adventure. Not one we’d signed up for, but an adventure nonetheless.
Day after day we’ve been trying to find our way, hitting unexpected hazards, scary possibilities, and periods of excruciating boredom. We’ve learned loads of new skills, from the mundane to the important and had the chance to use our time differently. Maybe even had time to consider the view.
Then, really quite suddenly and in record time science turns up and offers us a way back down. We find ourselves with a choice to make. Continue the climb, or call for rescue.
Rescue can get us back to where we were before this all started, by Spring next year, and can probably get off the dangerous part of the climb a little earlier than that. Back to safe territory.
Or we can continue the adventure and explore more of the opportunities we’ve discovered. Working differently, perhaps with different people. New routines. New perspectives. More hazards, and the possibility of failing. Understanding that going back still doesn’t tell us what will be next. We’re in “what next” right now.
We know that over 90% of us will call in rescue, get back to safety and tell adventure stories back on the commute, and at the gig, the office, meetings and embrace the old familiar, comfortable disengagement.
A few though will continue, understanding that going back does not guarantee safety, just comfortable familiarity whilst we wait for the next surprise. Those few will continue the adventure in search of somehere where they can do work that excites them, with people they trust, to achieve something important for themselves and those around them. To be authors of their own story, not walk on parts in somebody else’s. To not have to read such hit articles as “How to brief a difficult boss”, or “How to stay creative when life feels monotoous”, or anything else aimed at those who find themselves in an organisation that creates the problems that the articles seek to address.
The industrial era that spawned the organisation type that attracts these problems is on the wane, but not yet gone, Going back to something that was already obsolescent seems less than sensible, particularly when this is a really good time to experiment with and hone the skills that are needed as a new era that depends on one hand automation and AI, and on the other very human , unique, creative and empathetic skills. The middle ground that going back means landing on is disappearing.
The times we are in are complex, and the challenge with complex is that there are no solutions to complex problems. The problem changes as we react to it, so we need to be able to react in real time. Waiting for training, or a policy document won’t crack it. In complexity, single domain experts flounder – too much outside their domain shows up ans that means we need commitment across domains and experiences to collaborate in real time.
When you’re on an organised climb, having a good rope, trust in the person above you holding the rope, and an ability to communicate well is essential. After all, becoming disengaged from the person holding the rope is a bigger problem for you than for her.
Perhaps the answer will be to develop free climbing skills. No organisation, no rope, no predetermined path. Freedom and accountability. If that’s the case, right now is really important time. Before the old rules kick back in.
Practice starts with a conversation with others looking to free climb.
There is no article, book or training course that will teach you how to do it. You already know – it’s just that you’re out of practice. if you haven’t been using this period to practice, it’s not too late to start.
You could also do worse than to read Seth Godin’s latest – The Practice. It’s excellent, and will give you the theory.
If you want to start thinking about putting the principles of free climbing into practice, then you might want to pop along to harnessing uncertainty where we’re looking to put a small group, or maybe two together. As an experiment, for fun, for free and because we think it’s important.