Ignoring the reactionaries

Thinking In Systems has a tiny but golden guide to creating a paradigm shift in a group of people:

You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm. You keep speaking and acting, loudly and with assurance, from the new one. You insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather, you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.

Donella H. Meadows, Thinking In Systems

The part about not wasting time with reactionaries stuck out to me.

When I think back to all the times where I’ve tried to introduce a cultural (“let’s stop DM’ing!”) or technical (“let’s switch to functional CSS!”) paradigm shift, 90% of that time was spent trying to convince the naysayers. “If I can just convince them, then the path will be clear!” I thought. Wrong again, idiot.

In retrospect, the successful ones worked out because the naysayers were drowned out by the growing mass of believers, not because I out-debated anyone. It reminds me of rebel innovation: the way to get controversial things done is to do them and draft in believers along the way until the naysayers don’t have a leg to stand on.

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