Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I didn't go to the moon, I went much further--for time is the longest distance between two places. Tennessee Williams

Let's put change into context, specifically the timescale of change. After all, we've heard it thousands of times: "small business adapt to change better than large, universities are slow to change, information technology changes rapidly...."

By way of demonstration, let's take a popular topic of change - climate.

Global Warming: This looks pretty bad. A close look at the temperature scale makes it a little less terrifying. But the more interesting information is in the time scale. Even compared to the rate of change at universities, a time scale of almost 200 years seems meaningfully large to a human. source

No Global Warming: But then on a timescale of a few hundred thousand years, it seems that global temperatures just cycle. And notice the temperature scale which is 10X the prior chart. source

Global Cooling: and on a timescale of a few million years, our world is cooling down. We better light a few more fires! source

I'm not going to make any sweeping generalizations from global climate change to other types of change. But I am going to challenge you to consider the timescale you are looking at the next time you consider if it could BE different.

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