Levels of distance for making change

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would b like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.” George Eliot, Middlemarch

“There are two kinds of knowledge, local and universal.” (LeGuin) Both are needed for change to effectively happen, and as an IA, you can supply either.

The key factor in deciding whether it’s more effective to Maintain critical distance from your organization or embed yourself is the appetite for change within those most affected.

This is also about the value and limitations of being at different points on the ladder of abstraction. It may be an IA superpower to move up and down it, but different work requires us to make a home at different points along it.


Le Guin, U. K. (2004). Four ways to forgiveness: Stories (1st Perennial ed). Perennial.