Teddy in, Teddy out

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When the town fairs of the summer arrive, with their sparkling claw machines and guaranteed chances to win teddy bears, we have an annoying rule in our household: if a new teddy moves in, an old one has to move out.

We consider it tough, but fair, love. It maintains a certain state of tidiness in the rooms of our kids – and it teaches our children the difficult art of prioritizing.

When we consider introducing new projects, initiatives, or changes in organizations, we way to often forget to retire old teddy bears. We add new teddys, that take up space on our shelves or push us closer to the edge of our beds, as “we can squeeze the teddy in right here, mum!”.

This year, two mandatory reads on Change Management were published in Denmark: Fatale Forandringer (Fatal Changes) by author Christian Ørsted, and Jytte Vender Tilbage (Debbie Returns) by Morten Münster. Both authors highlight a problem they see in our organizations: we strain our people by putting too much on their to-do lists.

Ørsted writes about “optionality” and “antifragile” (based on Nassim Taleb), Münster coins it “constipation” and proposes that we build in some slack to avoid planning with a full allocation of our resources, allowing our organizations to cope and be able to also handle the unplanned for.

I hope they’ll be heard when that burning desire for a new teddy bear pops up in your organization… or do you already have a rule about sacrificing old teddy bears to make room for new ones?


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