To test whether or not the ice was thick enough to play hockey on, we lob large rocks on to it. If they went through, we’d walk home. If they bounced, the skates went on. Sometimes the rocks would sink in, but the ice would hold. At that moment we’d look at each other, wondering who was going to be the ‘test penguin’.
As I was the little brother, it was rarely me. Usually it was my oldest brother who’d grab his hockey stick and slowly walk on the ice hitting the ice in front of him with the butt end of the stick. The rest of us would be silent, watching and listening. Often we’d hear the ice crack, Paul would freeze as we all tried to figure out what type of crack it was. Was it a ‘get off now’ crack or a ‘small movement in the ice’ crack. After the tests were done, we’d either go home or we’d all pile on the ice for hours of fun.
As we seek out change, there are all kinds of different tests we can do to figure out the context in which we are working. We don’t need to rush in and ‘fall through the ice’. Sometimes the answers are clear – the rocks bounce or go straight through. But often they are not and we need to follow up with smaller, slower tests to understand the context better. And there almost always is noise (cracks), but deciphering the noise is a skill to learn, but not all noise means the change is impossible.