Sea levels are rising. It’s happening every day, and it’s been going on for a while. Most people won’t notice until it gets to a point where it can’t be ignored. An overnight crisis such as a hurricane or a flood captures everyone’s attention and motivates everyone to immediate action based on the severity.
The thing is that incremental, daily progress is what actually causes transformation; not the immediate overnight crisis. A figurative drip, drip, drip, showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, is the subtle but difficult work that changes a culture.
It’s the coordinated, accelerating work of many people that causes those in control to sit up and take notice. Do it a few times in a row, or a hundred, each with more impact, and we can successfully cause a transformation.
We can fail in two ways: The first is when we ignore the drips around us and discover that we’ve been swamped by an incremental change in the culture that we didn’t see coming. The second is when we think an overnight crisis is going to have a lasting impact.
We can succeed when we combine the best of both worlds.
Truth Be Told, we can settle in for the hard work of daily, bottoms-up institution building and then use the overnight crisis, not as a distraction, but as the motivation for a steady march towards transformation.