Changing fast and slow

Everything around you is changing right now. Some things feel more permanent, like that big old tree in your yard or the house you live in. But, the truth is that there are processes and activities happening within all of these things that we just don't see, and we may struggle with things we do not see. 

I want to talk about the change of things first and then pull it back to the change of people. 

What we do not see

I don't know about you, but I can't see any atoms with my eyes, even with my glasses. But they are there, holding together the chair I'm sitting in. And still, at some point in the future, the wood of this chair will rot and fall apart and turn into something else. It will no longer be a chair. 

While it's a human-made object, made from natural materials, it is easier for me (and most, I trust) to accept that this thing is changing at a slow rate because we don't see the change. We can't. My chair was there a week ago, as a chair, and it's still here, still a chair. 

If the chair were to change overnight into, say, a banana, that would be unexpected to say the least - although it might be more comfortable! And then I could choose to confront the fact that the chair is no longer a chair, and deal with all of those issues - or I could work on accepting that I now have a banana on my dining room floor, and oh yeah, my dog has chosen to start eating it.

We do things to confront these types of changes. We have refrigerators to slow the decaying of food - the change of food - in order for us to be safe. We have trash collection for both safety and convenience. Sometimes we may throw things away so as not to be reminded of their changes.

What we do see

Redesigns - big, big redesigns of things - are fast change. We notice them because they tend to be instant and perhaps dramatic. Cars, computers, UIs... these are things we make and may change rather quickly. In order to highlight the change, we tend to incorporate visual design to signify the change. "This is different!" we're saying. It's pretty amazing that we have design to help us communicate change.

Sometimes this change is met with surprise, sometimes it's met with gratitude. But the way that the change is handled is key here. Do you just drop something new on people (a banana!) and then put the burden on them to figure things out? Or do you guide them, help them, empathize with them, and help them through change - which may be very difficult to do?

A key piece of design work when making anything new is the transition from old to new or, in the case of something brand new, from nothing  to something .

And then there are people

People are the heart of all of this. As we interact with people over our lives, we might start to see them with their set patterns, expectations, and beliefs. "I know  how he's going to react." "She's not going to like this." Well, sometimes that is true outside of the hardcore knowing part; our behaviors are patterns.

But as living things we are changing every single moment of every single day. I'm not the same person I was when I started writing this piece. It's important to me to realize, accept, and celebrate that - not just in myself but in others, too. The people I know are capable of both fast and slow change, including behavioral. Sometimes I may be ignorant of the slow change. The fast change may be hard to ignore.

It is still happening. Change is a flowing river, and it is always moving. We can not stop it  nor should we. It is up to us to choose how to be  within this river of change. And if we choose to change fast, what are we doing to help others change fast along with us?