I was at the Watch Repairers on Saturday. I noticed the plethora of watches displayed on his kiosk and wondered how much each was. Amazingly he said they were not for sale when I finally asked. His customers had left them with him, some for up to five years? And why did he keep them? Well, someone could stop by someday and ask for his or her watch! Excuse me?
Well asides the items with known unknown owners, there were other items: the bits and pieces of damaged watches. Could they be used to fix other watches? I certainly hope not. Could they be fixed? Definitely not! The why keep them? I can imagine the middle aged man packing and unpacking these fragments every day of his life for years and years, coming to his kiosk and returning home… every day.
I began to consider that weird fragment of human behavior: routine. Why do we keep things we do not need? Why do we keep doing things that are producing no results? Why do we fail to see where we are getting things wrong until someone else points them out? That auditor from some external company who knows just a bit more than what we have told him, that consultant who knows the same things we have read in the technical documentation. Change is hard, tradition is easy to stick with, safer to maintain.
Often tradition is never explained, needs not be explained (according to some) or in fact has no explanation. “That is just the way things are”. Tradition could be a prison, the ropes limiting the elephant to a certain radius around that large tree; the imaginary bowl keeping the goldfish swimming around in one tenth of the aquarium. Tradition is a prison. Are you bound?