Quality Blog

Jim's Gems: Put Change in Context

March 3, 2014

The pace of life today seems hectic.  As the saying goes, “So much to do so little time.” Maybe the only constant in life is change.  But it certainly seems to escalate as time progresses.

Heraclitus, the 6th Century B.C. Greek philosopher, got it about right when he observed that “Nothing endures but change”. He stressed that nothing stays the same, so everything is always changing; therefore, the fact that everything changes is the only thing that doesn’t change.

The challenges that the ancients faced might have some similarity to our own.  What has certainly changed is the accelerated pace that our modern world places us in. This accelerated pace creates a feeling of uncertainty.

The pressure to confront uncertainty in a 24/7/365 environment is in stark contrast to the slower pace of Periclean Greece or even that of our parents' generation.

The reality of unrelenting, quickening change puts a premium on being able to solve problems in an effective manner. But how is it done? Maybe putting change in context is the answer.

Albert Einstein, when asked how he would solve a problem if he only had one hour.  He said would spend 55 minutes trying to understand the nature of the problem and 5 minutes working on the solution.

I think what Einstein was saying is that getting to the context of a particular situation is necessary before a true resolution can be achieved.

Dr. Andrew R. Thomas, a University of Akron professor and author of several books, reminds us, “We might do well to remember that it is the context that truly matters.”Don’t let the pressures of the situation or the need for change force you into an outcome before truly understanding all the ramifications. 

Think about it.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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