I worked with a fast-growing company that had made a variety of impressive accomplishments. At one point, I arranged for one of my students to write a case study about the company. I accompanied the student when the CEO was interviewed and recounted the first five years of the company.
It was an impressive story about the unfolding of a clear strategic plan. He described the company as moving effortlessly from phase A to B and then to C. This account did not match my understanding of what had taken place. I interjected and described a very different history. When he was challenged with the actual chaotic learning process that had taken place, he paused and then smiled and said, “It’s true, we built the bridge as we walked on it.”
Organizational and personal growth seldom follows a linear plan. This is an important principle to remember. When people recount a history of growth, they often tell it in a linear sequence, suggesting a rationality and control that never really existed. (Deep Change, pp. 83)