Removing Patina

Patina (Merriam-Webster)

a :  a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color

b :  a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use the beautiful patina of this antique table

These two definitions of patina are remarkably close in message. With metal, the green speaks to delicate weathering and significance (the Statue of Liberty comes to mind). With other items, such as antiques and organizations, the quality increases value (why else would Bolten label each beer “since 1266?).

Removing patina is expensive. Imagine if we paid a team to clean and burnish the Statue of Liberty to the color of new copper for every sunrise? The cosmetic industry is also founded on the principle.

Lessons also exist in patina. We all know what happens to a company which forgets the lessons of accidents. Exxon knew the value and swore to never forget Exxon Valdez by implementing a culture of disciplined management called OIMS, or Operations Integrity Management System. OIMS is their patina.

Organizational patina comes in the form of processes, people, experiences, and in the end, culture.

So when you change, as a person or as an organization, don’t discount the patina. It is there for a reason, it is valuable, and it is beautiful.


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