Run before you walk

Walk before you run: the adage all of us must have heard over and over, when assessing a new project, investment, process… And who wouldn’t agree with it? It’s plain common sense. After all, that’s how human beings work, so it should be the same for organizations, shouldn’t it?

It sounds like the reasonable thing to do, but it’s not. We can’t afford it.

The thing is, as human beings we are wired to grow into running, and to do it by a certain stage. We may start with walking, but we soon start moving our feet quicker and quicker. And then we trip. No big deal. We cry a little, pick ourselves up, start walking faster. And trip again. And pick ourselves up again. Until we look around, and we’re running. (With that realization we usually trip again.)

If human beings evolved into running like organizations do, we’d have a committee forecasting the amount of attempts and energy required by running against its supposed benefit (assuming they could see one, as you could reach the very same destination just by, well, walking); then they would invest in a simulation to predict the optimal body balance and step succession to achieve the ideal running; there would be contingency plans in case of trips, an event whose chances would have to be minimized anyway not to upset stakeholders; finally, they’d impose a deadline by which return on investment would have be proved, or they’d pull the plug on this new “running” scenario, leaving someone else to experiment with it.

If we evolved in our lives the way we evolve in our work, we’d still be researching “Global benchmarks in running” by the age of 8.

Instead, we inevitably try running way before we’re ready for it. The urgency of the inevitable. That’s how things get done.

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