Tuesday, February 10, 2009

time for transformation

Do you ever get that feeling that so much change is happening and that it is beyond anyone's power to influence it? Or that several of our social systems are overwhelmed, not just the economy?

Futurist Alvin Toffler coined the phrase "future shock" in 1970 when he wrote an article by that title in Nature. It basically means: too much change too fast blows the system. For the past decade business management literature has been referencing this term and the concept of "resilience" to counter the effect.

Harrison Owen coined another term "raplexity" which means change that is both rapid and complex. In 1980 when changes of this nature faced our large organizations, the hubs of economic systems. The ones that innovated stayed in the game. For instance, AT&T produced the touch tone phone and switchboards gave way to cybernetic exchanges of data packets. There is an unprecedented need for creativity and collaboration in our organizations, communities and social systems right now.

In the current wave of raplexity, innovation needs to be in the playbook along with downsizing. Today, it is not technological innovation that is called for as was the case in past three decades. And we can't rely on academics insitutions to absorb and assimilate all the knowledge that organizations once possesed. What is called for now is an innovation of social technology - financial, enviromental, and human.

Now, what would that look like? I have a few ideas....It starts with visionary leaders that empower people to transform the systems they use every day.

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