Out With the Old

Places must evolve over time to adapt to the changing context around them. This means not only adding things, but also retiring things that are no longer serving the place’s goals.

For example, Disneyland is still popular after 60 years in part because it hasn’t stood still. It’s always evolving to meet the public’s changing tastes. When thrill rides started to become popular, Disneyland added themed roller coasters. Disneyland is relatively small, so many of these new attractions have come at the expense of the old. For example, the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster replaced a beloved attraction called Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. Fans of the Disney parks — some of the company’s best customers — mourn these changes. Sometimes they even stage protests to try to save the attractions they love. It takes leadership to ignore vocal customers asking you to hold back change.

In information environments we don’t have the same constraints that physical environments do. When change requires us to add something new, we don’t have to do it at the expense of the old. But it’s worth asking: Does this feature/functionality/content replace something we already have? If so, maybe the old should go away. Keeping old stuff around can add noise and can increase maintenance costs.

If it doesn’t make sense to keep it, get rid of it. Some customers will be unhappy, but the alternative to constant evolution is not preferable to anyone involved.