Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some ideas about creating the future.

Post 574 - Reflections on how to think about the future:

We need to step back and learn from history, then learn to manage complexity with simplicity using more general ideas.
Learning from the past gives people security to be able to change. The challenge of learning to be able to go fast slowly.

We need to develop a new kind of complexity rather than just simplifying organizations by downsizing. Organizations must develop a capability to manage complex on-going change at all levels - pretty sophisticated stuff relative to traditional reactive change. This will require a whole new way of teaching employees so it becomes a never-ending ongoing exercise. Strategies now have to be developed on many levels and short term initiatives is as important as long range ones. There's a need to reinterpret the past to make it a part of the future - that is, to integrate the past and the future so people can resolve the split in their head which polarizes their choices between one or the other. A new world view should integrate both. This means reordering of how we in the west view the concept of time, differentiating between where M-time and P-time are appropriate to use, rather than using M-time all the time.

Our most cherished myths are often freely sculpted truths. For confirmation and comfort, we often turn not to a verifiable recording of the past but to a loose rendering of it. That fuzziness is our heritage, the other merely a record of what happened.

We need to learn about the future from the past and the present by looking for the patterns (principles) behind the patterns - these are the principles that endure. There can be no viable future that doesn’t have its roots somewhere in the past. New futures won’t spring into being without honoring the continuities that people value in their lives and their previous work habits. Examining the past is a way to appreciate these continuities in the present and provide a platform to evaluate the current system. The history of a system is as much part of its future as its environment. Strategy development can’t be detached from the system’s culture and history. Examining the past is a way to start dreaming about the future.

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