August 17, 2020

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.” 
-Frederick Douglass

Industries are being agitated by upstart competitors and new technologies, our state and local tax systems are being agitated by new ways of working and new business models, our education system is being agitated by the demands of the public health crisis and online education, and our social systems are being agitated by those standing against the status quo. Taken all at once and in such large doses, this can be truly aggravating. There are some days when we all just need some consistency and some status quo, right?

Probably not. Just as agitating water helps to release CO2, increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the reservoir, helps to support the fish that live in the water and decreases oils and harmful fungus from growing, we all need and ultimately thrive when the waters are agitated a bit.

The disruptive ideas brought into struggling organizations by people with new perspectives and life experiences make them better, new models of governance and taxation adjust to where and how people work, spend money, and generate revenue for the government. Our society is awakened by those that stand up to help us to better understand and take action against inequities that are harmful and unjust. We would be stagnate and cease to function without the status quo constantly evolving and our systems and organizations being agitated.

Also consider the contrarian view. Agitated muscles can become inflamed, sore and even permanently damaged if overused and ignored. They need rest in order to be restored and strengthened over time. Too much tension and aggravation leads to unrecoverable damage and suffering. So, how do we accept, even invite, agitation and also find time to restore and strengthen our systems and organizations?

First, seek to understand what is changing and why. Careful analysis, observation, and listening are required. These days that has to happen quickly, but it still needs to take place. Second, lean on the basic principles of the economy and your principles as an organization. They are most often well founded and time tested. They are a navigation system for just these types of situations. Third, take action, monitor results, prototype, and try again. Uncharted waters require careful movement forward, but also require that you don’t just drift along doing nothing.

Let’s have a great week.
-Kenny McDonald