Do we get old, or just out of date? Failing to keep up with the pace of change.

This is a reflection upon a month of projects | within projects of my own. My preparations for more learning and sharing. Conclusions reaffirmed that the plan is how to adapt, not how to optimise my time. All such reflection leaving me to ponder what it is to be part of the intended change.

First day of work – this is how quickly I witnessed change

My first day of work – city work – was in 1995. I recall computers were an optional mystery box, monitors claiming the biggest corner of a desk. Snopake or Tippex sat in everyone’s top drawer – paint applied to handwritten mistakes. Fax machines had replaced the telex, but only just. Financial reports ran from special printers, via a C:Prompt instruction in WANG. Is it nearly home time? No need to stop reading these green coloured pages of chopped trees. 5pm was announced by the smell of freshly lit cigarettes at one desk in three.

I remember my early PFI deals even into 2002 being managed by the fax. An endless churn of drafts of contracts. Often just the pages with handwritten notes, comments, edits, or rejections from your counterpart. The next formal edition of the draft then couriered – contracts by the box load – fresh from the lawyer’s print room. Meetings could last for days. Bankers, government, investors interests or contractors, for each the strategic walk out was a thing. Eventually, when bluff was called, the piles of papers in a boardroom on the day of financial close was a sight to behold. Thousands of pages, hundreds of documents. Each one ticking a box, as a condition precedent to the loan.

Then the Nokia 3310 was everywhere. As a better ‘phone. But business cards still had landline numbers first. You rang them and expected someone to say hello. I was junior enough to then inherit my first blackberry from my boss. It was not assumed you had a mobile phone. If a financial close was late, it was a moral dilemma as to whether to wait at your desk, a single spotlight in the dark. Is it to be another round of faxes, or dare I hope everyone else was going home.

First day of school – this is how quickly I now witnessed change

All of these thoughts passed me by this afternoon. Contemplating how much has changed in the two years since registering for my last MSc. A process today more automated and remote. No queues. No presence needed. Not like two years before – which I suppose was the last registration year before Covid19. In just two years much more is now assumed in student understanding of interfaces between apps and servers – and access to inboxes – once passwords have been retrieved. I found myself comparing these to little rewards for reaching the next level, the next download, the next stage gate. Mario or Zelda would be proud. New access to new instructions on video. The next mission. To then upload a photo or fill a form. Submitted to then trigger another email in an inbox, both of which are new. To then finally be linked back to the same login screens as before. But now returned triumphant. Transformed by the new identification tag, new passwords, and onward to new screens.

I don’t think I have ever been so grateful to finally land in a virtual space. Close enough to my new department to find a folder marked “instructions for postgraduates”. And from there I was just three clicks from a 65 page PDF. “Welcome!”, it begins, “All you need is here”.

First day – since yesterday

Covid19 has moved us all on at a pace. I think perhaps the pace of change in the last two years reflects as much as my last twenty. At least when I consider change in what is now normal in conducting trade. If only because of the enforced acceptance by many who would otherwise resist. University, just like all institutions, have found new ways. Adversity breeds invention. History tells us a good war can advance what is already on its way. But this time perhaps the adversity and societal shifts came in a fragile peace. Or maybe a bio-war – a viral enemy. Are we all now opened up to more change to come? And the more we change the more we support the next. How primed must we all now be to the potential for more.

First day – this is how I see the game has changed

Here is the kicker. How quickly has more change now arrived? Carrying under its arm nothing but new risks we each now face. To become obsolete or be ready for the next. Press continue, and to level-up.

Is this what now happens if you ever want to stop playing? Five years ago I would have insisted that that is the point of the pension and the plan. But with so much change, I think the moment I stop renewing my software and keep current via each new patch, is the last day. The final day. The full stop. Is this why life seems to speed up with age? If change is indeed all we do. To have counted too many days resisting, and feel too tired to then catch up. Maybe that is what it is to be old. Ignoring the body-craft and the face lifts. Maybe this is what it is to be old in mind.

First day – every day

Each of us a personal project as “time-bound intended change”

Change. It does not stop. It is intended only by our human needs. Impacted by our actions, and the merit of our deeds. Each of us as a project. A time-bound intended change. All of us one project – aligned – or as many projects as we may choose to disagree.

Within each of us, the less we intend to change, the more bound we feel to time. External to all of us, the less we account for the impact of our intended change, the less time left we may be bound.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: