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Change and Inertia

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
by Kent Aitken RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken


One quick note: last night was the final event of Richard Pietro's Open Government Tour. Richard is a citizen who has been riding his motorcycle across Canada since July 2, speaking about Open Government, purely because he believes in it.


The motorcycle does indeed have "Open Data" and "Open Gov" decals. Richard was holding the camera for this one.

I just want to say congratulations to Richard and encourage you to check out that link - it's an inspiring display of creativity, drive (to the point of virtuous audacity), and civic engagement.


"Change is the new normal," I heard recently. True. But it's also the old normal. It's just what happens.

At this point in the post you can choose your own adventure: enjoy six minutes with Toronto CIO Rob Meikle on change and our attitudes towards it, or skip to the next paragraph.



The fascinating flipside to constant change is when we want to change, or when we're told to change, or when we're informed of change and... nothing really happens.

This could be personal habits, organizational pivots, or attempts to influence a community. It comes with some form of the message "This is what's going to happen, and this is what is needed from you."

But we get that message dozens of times a day. And without reinforcement, it sounds like noise. What's missing is the sustained commitment, the signalling that sets apart this particular change, and our day-to-day experience feeling different after that decision point. 

The world around us is changing, one shock after another. New technologies, new demands from citizens, new crises in governance, or in that which is governed. New demands on ourselves to constantly learn and adapt. Yet, in many ways things stay rock steady. The conversations have changed staggeringly in the last half decade, but the day-to-day experience is sometimes exactly the same.

We have to recognize that organizations and people have tremendous inertia, which is a reasonable approach to staying sane and filtering false signals about change. But when we really need to change, we need to stop approaching it like this:


A sudden effort, at one moment in time. No one can feel it.