my parents just bought a new house, and by new i mean old. in philadelphia, every house is old — many of which have not been renovated since the 60s. so the weekend before thanksgiving, i went up to philly to take care of some errands and, while there, to check out the house and paint the upstairs bedrooms for my parents.

not bad, right? wrong.

the new house has popcorn ceilings with… sparkles? in it. and both the downstairs as well as the back room upstairs have floor to ceiling mirrors which one can only assume is to ‘make the room look larger’. to me, it all makes the room look ‘horrible’. but such was the style back in the day (…i suppose).

there’s a slight problem, however: namely the fact that it’s now the future and such designs are way outdated, look bad, and worse yet are hard to change. painting the ceilings was not fun. first, the popcorn soaks up all the paint so you end up using far more than you would have used on a normal, flat surface. second, it falls apart on you. i know this too well. my brother and myself both had paint covered pieces of the ceiling fall off and into our mouths. (yes, it would have made sense to have a mask on, but we didn’t exactly have an OSHA approved setup.) the mirrors? they’re still up there. it would have cost too much money to have them removed, and then you have to worry about what’s behind those mirrors once you do take them down. beyond the cost to remove them, you may incur even more costs in fixing whatever is behind the mirrors. it’s not an agile design for the interior of a house.

much like designing a house, you may want to be careful when you are making design choices for your organization. you will be tempted to put a lot of processes in place and begin to adopt “industry best practices” from competitors in your marketplace. i say to exercise caution because the more processes you have, by definition, the less agile your organization is. processes reduce your ability to make changes, and therefore your ability to innovate.

don’t get me wrong—some processes are important. you do still need a ceiling, and you certainly need walls. before you go making choices, however, think about the future. are you making the same choices based on what everyone else sees as the newest fad, or trend? are you making decisions that are restricting your organization’s ability to adapt to changes? are you going to be stuck with popcorn on the ceiling that’s hard to change and mirrors on the walls that are expensive to get rid of?

don’t let “this old house” turn into “this old organization.” always plan for the future.