Technology’s tumultuous tornado shows no signs of terminating and logically never will. Technology’s rate of change has been increasing exponentially and will continue to do so. It cannot decelerate. However, in reflecting on this change over the past few decades, some observations should capture our attention.
The first observation is purely what I have stated—the rate of change. Prior to the personal computer revolution, we still experienced change, but the change we experienced was spread over longer periods and generations. This translated to certain practical applications within our daily business world and general societal life. Everything, literally and metaphorically, moved slower. This slower pace of change affected how we did business and how we lived. It affected how we handled change and how we related to each other.
Today, those effects have all been accelerated because of the increased rapidity of change. In that acceleration of change, we are experiencing effects that we have never before experienced (as Alvin Toffler predicted in his classic book, Future Shock). This is true because of the speed of the change itself and because of the scale of the change. We are truly entering uncharted territory each day.
Yes, I do understand that one could make the argument of so what? Just because we are entering uncharted territory does not necessarily in and of itself call for any particular increased thought or analysis. While I can understand the basis for that argument, I reject it out of hand. The reason is that our pace of change, the nature of change, and its effects upon business and society are all unprecedented in human history. Therefore, it is on this basis that I believe we must continuously strive for a deeper dive and a more rigorous reflection. There is too much to learn, too much to gain, and too much to lose. If the words of Socrates spoken during a time of incredibly limited technology beckon back to us today that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” then how much more should those same words call us to action today?
Technology’s tumultuous tornado requires that we freshly assess its effects on our businesses, relationships, ethics, higher education, leadership, and society. We dare not be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. That strategy never ends well.
Tomorrow, in Part Two, I will begin looking at one of many individual items that we should analyze so that we genuinely keep our heads while in the midst of this technology tornado.