I saw an interesting debate happening a few weeks ago here locally. One of the school districts was considering moving the start time for high school students to later in the morning. I've thought for a long time they should do that, knowing anecdotally that kids would do better with more sleep, and having that backed up with mounting evidence.
It surprised me to read the intense opposition to the proposed changes. Everything from concern about bus schedules, to preparing kids for college and the "real world", to impacting parents' schedules. Certainly some valid considerations to make. Changing high school start times would have cascading effects that would need to be assessed and mediated. But there are some significant benefits for students, especially when we consider the physical development that is happening at their age and the importance of sleep.
What surprised me most in the whole thing was the rigidity of everyone. In opposing even adjusting the start time of school, the basic underlying assumption is that what we have now is as good a system as we can possibly get. And we shouldn't mess with it. Because we can't possibly figure out how to accommodate the other issues we might introduce. Which I find baffling.
My opinion about our education system is that it needs to be largely dismantled and rebuilt for our new age. Start times are one of hundreds of issues. And if we're already too rigid to even make small changes, how are we going to make the big changes?
This is the topic I've been thinking about a lot lately as I've been seeing rigidity in so many systems and processes. We often let ourselves fall into certain ways of doing things only to let that be the default without considering alternatives.
In an article I wrote this month, Erasing to Foster Creativity, I address this topic at length.
"We should, as a habit, periodically reimagine all of our processes and assumptions from the ground up."
There are often many reasons we may give to not change something. It may work just fine. It may have knock-on effects. It may be "the way it's always been done". But those are often excuses. We should thoughtfully examine our processes. In our lives and in our businesses. Nothing should be immune or sacred.
I recently went through something very similar. We had been doing something on my team in a certain way since I started. And someone presented a case why we should change. My initial reaction was "no" for a variety of reasons. But I stopped myself, thinking through both sides, and realized I was wrong. Changing what we had been doing was a huge lift and meant upsetting many people and a balance that had been in place for a long time, but it was the right thing to do for the business and for our people. So we did it.
So what are the things that you should reexamine? What processes have been in place that no one has questioned for too long? Or that you haven't even considered questioning? It's time to reimagine everything.
We should, as a habit, periodically reimagine all of our processes and assumptions from the ground up. We have to disrupt ourselves, our routines, our comfort to find what will work and what will bring success."
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