Monday, June 22, 2009

When Out of Order is In Order

The chronological approach is drilled into us in elementary and high school. We start the story at the beginning and work on through, box to box, to the end.

A is always followed by B.

Later on in the workplace, we learn that A is sometimes followed by D or R and that going out of order - and thus creating a new sequence - can be beneficial.

Thus we don't wait until a draft is perfect before circulating it to others; we let a copy make the rounds early and benefit from the wisdom of colleagues. We don't expect to have all of the information before surfacing a proposal, but instead hold an informal brainstorming session with the recipient in order to ferret out possible concerns.

This doesn't mean that we've abandoned a linear approach. Our willingness to meander simply recognizes that there is a time to get off the trail and a time to return to it. Sometimes, the side trips are highly educational. They may even turn into shortcuts.

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