One day during the school holidays, Stick Child’s daddy took him to an outdoor adventure park, where people climb through the trees using various ropes, nets, rickety bridges, zip wires and other things. Stick Child’s daddy thought he’d be pretty good at it, as he’d been on similar obstacle courses when he was much younger…
It soon became apparent, however, that he was a lot slower than his boy, moving with all the grace and finesse of a large land mammal, tangling himself up in his safety ropes and wobbling precariously as he crossed from one platform to the next. Also, the higher they went, the wobblier he became, hugging the tree trunks desperately and avoiding eye contact with the ground.
Stick Child thought this was quite funny and was tempted to laugh at his daddy, who had been acting all big and tough when they were on the ground. Instead, he decided to help him, as he had learnt some good techniques for tackling these sorts of obstacles on a recent school trip.
At first, Stick Child’s daddy still thought he knew best (“I’ve been doing it this way for years, son”), but Stick Child showed him some simple techniques that enabled him to traverse the obstacles a lot more quickly and surefootedly. Some of the techniques were a bit counter-intuitive to Stick Child’s daddy and he was quite nervous at times, as his natural reaction was to grab onto obstacles when Stick Child told him that going across ‘hands free’ would give him better balance and speed.
It was scary at first, but Stick Child’s daddy trusted his son, and found the alternative approaches worked much better. Father and son had a great afternoon and the elder of the two learnt a lot as well.
So, this happy tale is likely to have a badly-hidden moral or two, isn’t it?
1. If you’ve been using targets, league tables and binary comparisons to manage performance, then it’s natural to want to keep doing what you’ve always done (or what others do) – it’s also natural to be nervous about alternative approaches, because that means you’re going to have to jump off the platform and fly down that zip wire. Just do it!
2. If you’re one of those people who already knows about Stick Child’s techniques, then its better to share the knowledge with those ungainly (but probably well-intentioned) folk who struggle to move deftly through the trees, rather than just point and laugh at them. They might react with denial, annoyance, embarrassment or even jealousy at first, but hopefully they’ll eventually see for themselves that there’s a better way of achieving the things they’ve always been trying to achieve.
But what about daddy being subject to his own set of system conditions? Why are his approaches important to him?
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