Outrunning Research: The Speed Of Change

“We are morphing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them.” -Kevin Kelly

Never before has the speed and turbulence of change been so amplified across the entirety of our societal landscape, as it has in this moment in time. A speed that has been spurred on by a digital transformation that is intent on invading and disrupting every facet of our lives, from the personal to the professional. In many ways, it feels as if change has been driven from a continuous march of incrementalism to a push of exponential leaps and extreme hyper shifts.

In many ways, this digital transformation has created a cognitive wild west.

In other words, much of what we are creating and pioneering has evolved forward into other realms and new regions of unknowns at such an unsettling pace, that few settlers have even had the opportunity to stake a claim, let alone set up camp. We are truly beginning to see technology begin to outrun us.

This speed, pace and turbulence of change is not just unsettling the equilibrium of individuals, teams, organizations and institutions across society, it is having the same disturbing and disrupting effects on our markets, industries and even countries. To counteract these current conditions, Marc Benioff at the World Economic Forum in Davos was recently quoted as saying that…

“Every country needs a Minister of the Future.”

Under these conditions and the constant disruption and upheaval that we are currently facing, we have to then begin to wonder how long that the idea of the expert, the current level of research and even “best” practices we remain intent on deploying can keep pace.

We have to wonder if the current speed, pace and turbulence of change is beginning to outrun the research…

And, if so, how does leadership adequately prepare and adapt to this shift? How do individuals, teams and organizations determine the effectiveness of current steps, especially in regards to taking next steps, as the landscape before us where we plan on taking those steps keeps morphing, shifting and changing continuously?

As Peter Thiel shares, “Today’s ‘best practices’ lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.” For which he adds, “Big plans for the future have become archaic curiosities.” The problem is that most of our organizations are founded in these ‘best practices’ and determine their future in strategic ‘long range’ plans.

It is this speed of change and digital transformation that will not just push, but force us to rethink many of our systems and processes if we are to not only keep pace, but avoid individual and organizational irrelevance.

We are going to have to become much more adaptable and agile, both as individuals and as organizations.  

This shift from the age of the expert to the world of the learner requires us to move beyond the research to more experimental, discovery learning if we are to even begin to consider paralleling pacing the staggering speed that change has set for society.

It will require us to not only rethink and reimagine our systems and processes, but our organizations and how those within them learn. This will require deep learning to create the type of transformation needed to better prepare our children and adults for a very different world and future.

The problem is that change is not waiting around for us to get our act together. As Hoque and Baer share in Everything Connects, “We have to assume that everything we think is right today will be wrong tomorrow.”

And if that statement is true in today’s world, then the pace of learning, both for our individuals and organizations, must be disrupted. In other words, we can’t engage these exponential shifts through linear and predictable processes of learning. In other words, our mindsets are going to need to undergo some major mindshifts, for…

The world has changed, exponentially.

As Jeremy Gutsche shares in his book, Better and Faster: The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas in regards to trying something radical, “It’s the opposite of painting by the numbers.  There are no numbers. And sometimes there’s no paint.”

This problem is, we are too often still searching for those numbers…


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