Yesterday I had afternoon tea with the girls – champagne, asparagus rolls, scones, cupcakes – in other words, the works. It was a pleasant and diverting way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We even had proper china tea cups and matching plates, a lace tablecloth and little silver tongs to pick up small cubes of sugar. Our host had bid for the occasion at a charity dinner and invited us to share in the delights.
It was a different world in the days when this sort of afternoon tea was more common. No-one would deny that. Yet when it comes to work we still hear the mantra to work harder, produce more. Measure the output. Be clear about outcomes. Pull the lever faster, produce more. Problem is, just like we’re not indulging in long afternoon teas so much, we’re not producing so many ‘things’ any more – a lot of work is knowledge work, thinking, engaging with others, generating ideas and solutions. Asking us to think harder is just silly.
We seem to be in the midst of this transition – no longer in an industrial era where being efficient and measuring output made sense, and not yet in whatever new era we’re entering. Stuck, hanging onto the past and not yet embracing the present. And as long as we hang there, stuck between the past and the present we lose momentum.
Momentum is what propels us forward. And for me the way to maintain momentum is to play. Play with new technologies, keep the ones I like, discard the others; play with ideas; play with different ways of working – indeed, play with different people. And I use the word play deliberately. It’s not a planned approach, there’s no system, no check boxes. It is random, it is opportunistic, and it is fun and engaging. It’s a journey of discovery. I’m trying to learn how to live in the world as it is, not as it was. It’s not without its frustrations, dead-ends and miss-hits. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m having fun despite the pace of change, the uncertainty and the uneasy sense of not really being able to keep up. How about you?