A Time for Scaffolders

When a building starts to show signs of wear and tear from the storms it has been facing, one of the first things we do is put up scaffolding around it. We put it up on the outside because we can’t see with any clarity what is going on from the inside. The same is true of institutions, businesses and our assumptions. We cannot understand what is going on from inside the system we are part of.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

Right now is a time for scaffolders, people prepared to do the complex and often thankless work giving us the chance to examine the condition of the structures we take for granted so that we can repair them where we can or start replacing them.

It’s easy to fool ourselves that everything is really OK, that what is going on around us is a temporary aberration, and that things will soon be getting back to normal. Only when somebody we trust, who has our best interests at heart, puts up the scaffolding and looks at the structure with us that we can see what is there, come to terms with it, and act on it. Scaffolders do not pretend to bring solutions – their job is to give us access to those difficult to reach places to decide for ourselves what work needs doing.

We all need scaffolders because the work structures we have become used to are looking very unstable after Covid19. They are unlikely to withstand the other storms we know they will have to face soon, from technology to planetary warming.

If you don’t have a good scaffolder, it’s time to start looking.

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