Bending and Breaking

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BLUF

Many small adjustments and oversights in process and risk controls equate to the bending of material to fit it to the desired space. Only when there has been too much strain, or too many bends, will the bent piece be broken. A break leads us to find a proper piece, or decide if something else would be more suitable.

Background

This year has challenged traditional practices, readjusting for remote – everything. Where we were once isolated together (via use of mobiles in company), now we are collectively isolated (using mobiles for company). In many respects there has been progress, moving forward in a direction. Things have shifted, but not changed.

The simplest analogy is found in manipulating metal. When you need a nail to be used for a fairly similar purpose (joining two items that don’t line up) or using it for another purpose still in its scope (making a hook) requires bending. We bend things all the time.

Bending is the swapping of ingredients in a recipe, the use of flex seal in repair work, using a suit jacket as a blazer, the practices adopted to meet regulatory requirements. It takes what isn’t quite right and makes it tolerable (at least) or improved (at best). What was done was along the same path and ended up with similar results. It’s adjusted, but not fundamentally changed – the recipe for an entrée will still be an entrée, regardless the ingredients swapped. It will not change to dessert.

When one bends something repeatedly, you see heat generated, or slight flaws at the bend point. It loses structure, becoming pliable. Until it breaks.

Unless we are building with fire, we can see the relative practice of bending far more often in workspaces. It’s usually the traditional processes, with logic of ‘because this is how we’ve done it.’ It’s evolved over time, leading newcomers to question their introduction. Larger issues erupt as the the evolution becomes mutation, clinging to past efforts and investment.

When it breaks you have something inconvenient, potentially something beautiful. You have to completely restart. If you’ve resources, perhaps you try to recreate what was destroyed or an updated version. If you’ve not, then you have a bit of a quandary – do you stay with the original framework, or do you create what should be in it’s place?

Much as we appreciate past traditions – I hope more things break.

-scl

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