Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gladwell's Musing on Change and...Golf?

I found a crumpled Time Magazine crumpled in the hall the other day...

It's the October 24, 2005 issue that has Steve Jobs on the cover emboldened by light blue letters set on a blackened computer screen asking 'What's Next?'

In the issue, there's a great conversation between six...Would you say cultural leaders?...experts that are having discussion upon what's next in society, technology, religion, politics, progress and culture. The group includes Clay Shirky, Malcolm Gladwell, Tim O'Reilly, Ether Dyson, Mark Dery, David Brooks, and Moby.

I liked a lot of their viewpoints...Especially when the topics concern progress and change.

However, Gladwell touched upon 'The Myth of Progress' when he questioned that despite graphite and titanium golf clubs golf scores still remain the same...Why is that? Could it be that the human elements of fear, competition, pressure, and insight always keep performance to somewhat a constant?

Here's what Gladwell stated:

"I'd like to make a distinction between change and progress. A lot of what we've been talking about falls in the category of change, not progress. To use a prosaic example, techonology related to golf has improved and will continue to improve dramatically.

Golf clubs are way better today than they were 10 years ago, and will be way better than 10 years from now.

Golf scores, however, have remained absolutely stable. This is an important distinction because historically when we talked about the future, we always talked about hte possibilities for progress.

Today when we talk about the future, we talk about the possibilities for change, which says that either we have deliberately lowered expectations or we're playing a game where we're pretending what we're talking about is progress when all we're doing is talking about change.

So,while looking at Gladwell's statements, my questioning is: Are we instituting change just for the sake of change? And is that type of change good?

Sure, the knee-jerk reaction is that it leads to more innovation and change.

But is it really...Look at athletic footwear, I played in Puma Clydes last week, and my feet and game were fine, which led me to start wondering...

Do we need new forms of rubber and cushioning with shock systems to protect our feet? After all, more ACL injuries have occurred since the footwear wars...Now, also a lot more people are working out that never did before as well.

Yet, in the NBA there are significantly more knee problems since the days of the Chucks, Clydes, Top Tens, ProKeds, and Bruins.

Just something to ponder about when it comes to implement change....



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