PathwaysThink of any change related project which you have been involved in and you will be able to appreciate the clear path between the starting point and the end point.   This is just how we remember things.

The reality of it is that hindsight prefers a distorted view of events.   During the change itself the path is not so linear, involving various changes in direction as a result of new found information, changing perceptions or other feedback gathered during the process of change

This has recently frustrated me with a project I have been engaged with, which had a clear pathway along which progress was being made with slight deviations and modifications being made along the way, but nothing substantial or at least this is how I envisaged things would progress.   Late in the year however it was decided to back away from the project and deliver a smaller pilot version of the original plan.    My initial reaction to this was to be disappointed and a little bit annoyed if I am being honest.   This move to a smaller pilot project represented a more significant change in direction and pace than anything I had considered.   It presented a significant deviation from the envisaged plan.

Looking back now, having distanced myself from my immediate emotions in relation to the project, I can now see that this big change in direction is just a factor of change and therefore should not be viewed as necessarily negative in context.   The direction of travel is still the same albeit the route is not as straight as I had originally thought it would be.

As such I will continue on with the now smaller project, as part of the project towards an ultimately planned more holistic implementation.   This recent change is not a set back back a small step on the journey towards the eventual goal of the project.


Regressing to the mean

The below post was written around a year and a half ago as I returned to the UK from the UAE to interview for the post I now hold.   I dont know why, however I never got around to posting my thoughts however as we head towards the end of 2016 it may be an appropriate time to share my them:


etihadIt was almost 7 years ago that, following accepting an educational consultancy post in the UAE, that I flew from Manchester in the UK to the UAE for the first time.   As an inexperienced flyer I was racked by nerves regarding the flight, regarding my new job, regarding relocating myself and my family from the UK to the UAE, regarding how I would adapt to a foreign culture and regarding a multitude of other things.    It hasn’t been until today some 7 years later that I have came to reflect on how I felt back then.

So why do I find myself reflecting you may be asking.   The answer is that I find myself once again sat on board a longhaul aeroplane this time travelling from the UAE back to the UK, a distance of 5500 Kilometers according to the display screen in front of me. The purpose of the flight is to attend an interview for a school in the UK. Again I find myself wondering about the interview, the school, the task of potentially relocating, the need to adapt back into UK culture and a multiple of other issues.

Now I think if you asked my colleagues 7 years ago as to what they thought regarding me taking up post in the UAE they would have all at least described a sense of surprise and some possibly a sense of shock.    I suspect my current colleagues and friends in the UAE may also express the same should I raise my current thoughts regarding returning to the UK.

So why do it, if I am so nervous and my friends and colleagues so surprised?    I think the answer relates to diversity. I am a creature of habit so in my day to day operations am happy with the status quo, with the same routines, the same people and the same locale. That said, I also believe that a constant reliance on the status quo will result in atrophy. To use a statistical analogy, when looking at performance of a skills based task, over time, performance of an individual or a group will regress to the mean. In other words the result will tend towards the average or each persons average ability over time, with freak lucky or unlucky results smoothed over.   In my life I am happy with the average and over time I appear to get into a pattern, or to “regress to the mean” if you will.   This is where I believe I am now, in that comfortable place settled with “average” or familiar patterns and events.   It is this that leads me to be on the plane on which I now sit for every so often I feel the need to mix things up a little and try and push for an extreme result away from average, to both unsettle and challenge myself and to disrupt the average or status quo.  It would appear the time period for this for me is around the 7 or 8 year mark.

I hope that this current endevour meets with an extreme positive result however only time will tell.   If you yourself have been happy with the average then good for you, however consider this: shaking things up could make you happier as it has done for me over the last 7 years during my adventures living and working in the UAE.   Sat on this plane I believe it may be possible that this chapter is closing.     This is a positive thing, as the closing of the current chapter means the beginning of new chapter, new challenges, risk, change, excitement, frustration and many other emotions and experiences (at least for a while until I regress to the mean once again!!!)

Image by Richard Vandervord licensed under creative commons attribution-share alike license.