BEWARE SHORT-SIGHTED VISIONARIES

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Years ago I embarked upon my one and only self-build project – a small bungalow – engaging a local builder who I trusted. He was a great guy; always up for a cup of tea and a chat, caring with kids and pets, and had an impressive knowledge of construction. He showed us many drawings for our cute little extension with all it’s bells and whistles, submitted multiple bits of paperwork to the authorities, and eventually got to work.

Though they took longer than anticipated, the foundations and initial framework were a sight to behold; sturdy, stylish and sensible. Then gradually, he stopped coming by to the point where, eventually I had to rope in friends and relatives for a bit of a dodgy working bee to finally get the thing finished without him.

To be clear, our builder wasn’t a bad guy, he was just a 1990s incarnation of a ‘type’ that has infiltrated organisations, initiatives and discussions across the country in the digital age. He loved the concept of our bungalow, he knew what it should look like, and took into account aspects of colour and light, air and traffic flow.

But he was a visionary. An ideas person. And just not that much of a “doer”.

This experience, and a few since that are more relatable to my industry, have made me wary of visionaries. They arrive full of ideas and inspiration, but are too stretched or lack the ability to see them through, put together and implement a holistic plan, or at the very least organise task delegation.

Our days seem to be full of caffeine fueled, distraction-laden meetings where we discuss ‘innovation’, make ‘connections’, provide input into noble new ‘initiatives’, and listen to promises bounce off the walls like a pinball.

Meanwhile, who’s doing the grunt work?

This isn’t a criticism of anyone in particular, and if I’m honest, I do see a bit of myself in there. We’re talking about passionate, caring people trying to make a difference, but I do wonder about the template we’re providing future generations – no-one will be interested in actually building the widgets, they will all just want to be involved in marketing them, or posting awesome photos of them on instagram.

Maybe we have got to the point where we need to stop having good ideas for a while and focus on just getting some things done.

Derek Green,
Managing Editor, The Westsider

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