Stability v Change

September 9, 2010

Are stability and change mutually exclusive? Is it possible to create a stable, changing system? Can you reinforce the value of a stable product or environment or business without sacrificing the ability to change?

The UAW feeds on people’s desire for stability. They promise a stable wage with stable benefits while working at a stable job. This is immensely appealing for the workers in the system–especially those who’ve been shocked or betrayed by unscrupulous employers.

Our political system feeds on people’s desire for change. People want forward progress, they want something to be done, and they want to feel like they are part of something new. The “swing” voters are quickly “disillusioned” which leads to a shift in power from left to right, or vice-versa.

Often times laziness or complacency is disguised as stability. Low turnover in a company may mean that the people are content and there is stable management–or it might mean that the company is suffering death by ambivalence. Software programs that were written for MSDOS in the ’80s and are still used today represent stability–they also may represent a lack of IT know-how.

People (especially managers) often use unprincipled change as proof of progress. Switching to an Oracle ERP system in a 50 million dollar company may be more about showing that the company is technologically savvy than about positive change. Buying new automated robots to machine the parts may be more about impressing the tour visitors than about cost savings.

In a single, small piece of software, stability can be surprisingly hard to come by, especially when written by an inexperienced or unskilled programmer. But stability becomes exponentially harder to achieve the more complex the software becomes–each component has to successfully interact with every other component. Further, as the system becomes more complex, it becomes more and more possible that an individual change will cause instability-which in turn causes change to become harder. And here’s the central point: COMPLEXITY INCREASES THE POTENTIAL FOR INSTABILITY AND DECREASES THE POTENTIAL FOR POSITIVE CHANGE.

Don’t mistake instability for positive change, and don’t mistake lack of change for stability. Don’t associate complexity with grandeur. Just make sure your system is simple, doesn’t break, and can change easily–easy, isn’t it?


5 Responses to “Stability v Change”

  1. john Says:

    just keep your poles out of the s-plane

  2. Objegehes Says:

    t’s such a great site. imaginary, very interesting!!!


    Opony Mozgowe


  3. Anna Kelley Says:

    Who or what is objegehes?

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