By Tom Murphy.
There are so many possible levers to effect change; finance, education, communication, technical innovation and so on, that planning for the future is now a major challenge. It is not always obvious what the next step is. However, we can narrow the field of options by eliminating the avoidable threats to our welfare.
Not doing stupid things is a strategy that can work surprisingly well for an individual on a day to day basis. On a collective level, climate change is beyond the point of being reversed or even slowed down. So it would not make any sense to make medium to long term plans without taking the possible environmental effects into account.
The consequences of increasing worldwide access to the internet are still ramifying. Although, it may now be more of a utility than a novelty, it would be foolish to think that how things are now on the web will be how things will be later on. By later on, I mean a year or two from now.
Millions of clever people are making smart adjustments and incremental improvements to what the web can do and how it can be made to work better. Goodness knows what they will come up with. But it will be different. And that means change. Change is good - it has to be since it is inevitable. By the same token it has to be acknowledged and managed.
Stability is vital for a business to operate and grow. However, to entrench oneself in one platform or one service delivery method would be tantamount to commercial suicide.
I could go on listing the big events that we all face but it is clear that even with avoiding the obviously stupid stuff there still exists a vast field of possible events with indeterminable outcomes.
This unpredictable future we face can be characterized as chaos. The way we handle chaos is by maintaining balance.
We do that by being sure of who we are and what we are about. Then we can push gently into the chaos. With the capacity provided by our strengths and energy we can assimilate new information and incorporate new knowledge and data into ourselves or our enterprises.
As we keep pushing out (if we don't have some fear and trepidation we are not dealing with chaos) our increased ability and knowledge builds a stronger base to operate from. And so on, until we start pushing up the daisies.
Balance is essential. Too much stability and we risk being overwhelmed by all the challenges we face. Too much chaos and we use up our resources too quickly in an unprofitable manner. All that is required is just enough apprehension to keep you alert - no more.
I don't know what the future will hold but being sensible and brave is probably a good start.
On a personal note: I think the most useful survival tool (we have to survive before we can thrive) is the ability to pay attention. More specifically we have to be more aware of what is effective and what isn't. This is not synonym for efficiency, organisation, or managing deliverables. It means being aware of what works.
The first thing that has to be established is what is it that has to be done. Then we can be as efficient and organised as we like about it. Pay attention, have some courage, and do not do dumb things, (use your cop on, as they say around here.)
Paying attention may or not save us but it will make the ride interesting while it lasts.