By Kristofer Palmvik ·
I have recently found myself in various conversations on how to make improvements in a lasting and sustainable way.
Over time, I started formulating an approach that I labeled "respectful disrespect" in my mind. And then I learned that I was almost 100 years late to a far more eloquent description of the same idea.
Originally expressed in 1929, the principle I was reaching for is known as "Chesterton’s fence".
In order to make changes, you should try to understand the reason behind the current state.
Without an understanding of how we got here in the first place, the proposed change might just make things worse.
"There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’"
What fences do we have that need to be torn down? Why did we need them in the first place?