Saturday, January 12, 2008

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.
—Sir Isaac Newton

Times change; everyone knows this. Change is that great constant that coincides with the passage of time. I used to work in a call center for the wireless phone industry: Starting as a vanilla agent in the receivables management department, I became one of the fastest employees to move into the “resolutions” department where the duty du jour was to assist agents in doing their jobs and assist customers in escalated situations. Just as any high technology industry, the wireless industry changes quickly. If something didn’t change (at least) on a weekly basis, something was wrong…and the next change would often be much bigger than the changes that would have normally occurred over the course of the last week or more that had not had change.

The easily-learned, but difficult to adapt to principle is that things change. Each day, all around us, we see things changing. However…what is the propensity for people to change along with the changing times?

There are conventional wisdoms abound here. Conventional wisdoms, as anyone whom as read here any time in the recent or distant past, understands that this sort of wisdom is often nothing more than convenient. The short answer is that people can change, but it can be difficult for them to do so.

The longer answer: Sir Isaac Newton, the guy that once proverbially had an apple fall onto his head, then determined that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction and developed a brand new system of math to describe the phenomena that he had discovered in the universe. Among his definition of the brave new universe that was coming to know the world was the concept of inertia. This principle of classical mechanics dictates that an object at rest will stay at rest and, likewise, an object in motion will tend to stay in motion. People don’t change because they are often held back by inertia such that they have behaviors which hold them back. While I can’t cite the research, I recall hearing once that after a couple weeks of “staying home, holed up in the house,” doing little to nothing productive, a person’s brain chemistry changes fundamentally, such that they are more apt to continue in that mode of living: I’ve witnessed this around me over the years and experienced it myself once, during a down period. I have often asked myself about the madness in the minds of these people.

It seriously requires a person to force themselves to get off of their behind and go out and do something.

An interesting corollary to this: How does one deal with the constant of change?

Most of the time people are resistant to change. Going back to my days in the call center business I learned one critical thing: The people that resist change often get left behind. The people whom grasp onto the change, ride the wave, and become a part of the change, “change agents” and “change warriors,” often find themselves benefiting from the change rather than becoming a casualty of it. However, I have a caveat coupled with a case study: Be careful not to become a casualty of the change

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Quote: Extraordinary People

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
—Elbert Hubbard, The Roycroft Dictionary and Book of Epigrams, 1923

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

To commemorate the last address Bill Gates will give at the Consumer Electronics Show as the Chairman of Microsoft, a quote from one of the biggest visionaries of our time:

If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG.
—Bill Gates, Chief Software Architect and Chairman, Microsoft

Monday, January 07, 2008

Quote: They Can't Get Away Now!

All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time.
—Lieutenant General Lewis "Chesty" Burwell Puller, U.S. Marine Corps

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quote: Judgment and Experience

"Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment."