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John Kapeleris, entrepreneur and General Manager at the Australian Institute of Commercialisation, blogs on a range of interesting topics around innovation, commercialisation and setting and accomplishing goals. I am a regular troll and some time commenter at his blog. This weekend he incited me to respond by writing about the Red Queen Effect, based on the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's (1871) Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.
As an aside my Dad, Ian, has been facilitating a discussion series about Lewis Carroll's two Alice books at U3A (University of the Third Age) over the last few weeks. He is interested in how Alice's experiences, and those of the other characters, align with the very real 'through the looking glass' lives we lead.
Back to John, he explains the Red Queen Effect very well (see his post here), so I won't go into detail except to re-quote two of his quotes from the Red Queen: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place” and “If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
My interest in John's post stems from a common issue we experience in trying to keep up with the 'fire hose' flow of new knowledge. (The fire hose analogy is about the difficulty of drinking high pressure water flowing from a fire hose, and the impossibility of drinking it all.)
In a comment on John's post, I wrote about the potential to use the concept of Great Circle Navigation to see the challenge differently. (You can catch up on the concept of Great Circle Navigation here.) These navigators found that travelling in a large arc is quicker than going in a straight line.
My example is...
I often read up to 5 business books in a month and hope the content will stick. Instead I could pick 1 business book; read it two or three times; reflect on how it applies to my situation; encourage a colleague to read it too, and have a coffee with her/him and discuss how it applies; then do something differently as a result. It could take less time than reading 5 books, and result in tangible change.Maybe there is something you could do differently, rather than falling into the insidious 'work harder trap'.
Further Study: If you are interested in my analogy, you might be interested that for air flight, the Great Circle route may be slower than a different route that takes advantage of high altitude 'jet streams'. (See the Aviation section in this Wikipedia article.) I wonder what this means to my theory?