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(c) thecreativshark

Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.

Red Queen syndrome

It takes so long to craft a program or an event to get it to a point where it is exactly the way you want it. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. And by the time you’ve got it the way you want it you’re probably exhausted and are just ready to let it run. But once you resign yourself to keeping it like it is it’s already begun the slide into decline.

There are at least two reasons for this: 1) Every ordered system tends toward chaos. It wants to fall apart, it wants to stop working. Every system needs constant attention in order to keep functioning properly. Constant tinkering and tweaking to keep it fulfilling its purpose. 2) The world around us is changing at a rapid pace, and so what worked yesterday may not work as well today. What was relevant yesterday may not be as relevant today. Think of the technology industry and how quickly items are superseded and become obsolete. The world around us is changing and our programs will quickly become obsolete without constant and careful attention and change.

It is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland where Alice and the Red Queen were running very fast hand in hand, and still the queen kept crying “Faster!” The weird part of the whole thing was that the trees and the other things around them never changed their places at all. No matter how fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. When they finally stopped, Alice protested:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else–if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

We need to be constantly changing just to stay where we are. We need constant change, constant improvement, constant innovation to keep moving ahead. You need to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are. That’s the Red Queen Syndrome.

The great G.K. Chesterton put it quite memorably when he said: “Conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of changes. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”

That’s the Red Queen Syndrome.