Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Why change the rules?

My Grandfather was a highly skilled cabinet maker.  He worked out of a small workshop from where he produced fine furniture.  His apprenticeship had been long and exacting such that his skills were of the very highest standard.

I was with my father sorting through a trunk which contained some of his tools. As we unwrapped oil soaked cloths to reveal beautiful tenon saws and wooden planes I remarked that my grandfather would have turned in his grave if he could see the power tools that unskilled people like me used these days.  He just laughed and confessed that grandfather’s workshop was as automated as it was possible to get.  He made electric planes, band saws and many other gizmos to make his work easier, faster and better. 

At one time if you drove a motor car you had to have a man walk in front of your vehicle with a flag to warn people and particularly horse riders that you were approaching.

In exams you couldn’t use an electronic calculator but you could do calculations with a slide rule: a wide ruler with a slide-able central bar which when lined up with its numerous scales allowed you to multiply numbers. When used in conjunction with a book of logarithm tables the young mathematician was able to perform amazing computation.  Or not.  Thank heaven these have been confined to the fires of hell!

History is littered with examples of how our lives would be different if people hadn’t challenged the rules, the social norms or (in the case of my grandfather) established practice.

Many people have argued with me that rules are there for a reason.  I accept this up to a point.  What we have to do is be prepared to challenge the rules especially when we can’t find improvements within established practice.  How many laws have been repealed as society moves on and they are no longer appropriate?

There is always a better way.  Achieving it might be painful but transformation can’t happen  if you won’t accept the possibility that the current rules might need to change.

No comments:

Post a Comment