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The Oldest Profession

There has always been a debate about what is truly the world’s “oldest profession.” The classic argument is for prostitution, based on a book where Rudyard Kipling coined the phrase in 1889. However, the real claim to fame would be for such professions as farmer, builder, and tailor. Certainly the need for food, shelter and clothing has always been at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

      I would make the argument that the profession of change management agent is the oldest recorded professional vocation. I base this claim on the historical fact that the first known authored writing was by the Sumerian priestess Enheduanna in the 23rd Century BC, who said, “What I have done here no one has done before.” Now we don’t know exactly what she did or why, but she certainly changed something and wanted to write about it.

     So managing change has historically been one of humanity’s major preoccupations. Survival itself is all about managing change. It’s why Noah built the Ark. Of course, not all change management strategies were successful as Noah’s. As a species, humans have survived and maintained preeminence in the food chain because of our ability to adapt to earthly changes through the use of our intelligence. We were not the strongest, the biggest or the meanest. We were simply the smartest species on the planet.

      However, intelligence is not always enough. As Charles Darwin noted, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." So our intelligence or the failure to use it could also be our undoing. Creating a nuclear holocaust would be the ultimate failure on our part to manage change. In the end, it is argued that we would be supplanted by the cockroach. Not exactly a fitting end to the species and definitely not a great change management strategy.

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