Moving targets

Marshall McLuhan apparently once wrote that “If it works, it’s obselete.”

He’s wrong of course. The wheel, concrete and the humble fork are just three examples of thousand-year-old-plus technologies that have stuck around exactly because they do their jobs so well. (Okay, okay, so wheels have got lighter since the Flintstones…)

But McLuhan has a point (of course). And I think it’s this: in life, we’re always trying to hit a moving target.

The contexts in which we serve are ever-changing, as are the people we serve and those we work with. We change. “The Possible” shifts. Even long-term visions – or how we undertand them – are subject to change as we learn and grow.

You find a new way and better way to do the things you’ve always done.

Your customer suddenly finds a better way to get the thing they used to get from you – maybe they stop buying altogether.

A hugely productive, superbly commited colleague cuts their hours and contribution at work as they start a family and need to contribute there instead.

Someone new comes along with talent and commitment and resources, and the horizon shifts.

People get tired.

People get inspired.

I think the point is this: it’s easy to get fed up that we’re never quite done, that the goalposts always seem to be moving… but this is a sign that we’re doing more than just making forks. It’s a sign that we’re doing something important, something involving humans – and that we’re alive.

Being alive is a great problem to have.

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