THE PROBLEM AHEAD - 3 MAY 2012
Lesser Prarie-Chicken Portrait - Milnesand, New Mexico, File # 1216424
Link To Original Image: http://www.tom-hill.biz/Galleries/Birds/Grouse/20928724_74pJ34#!i=1826042942&k=d7NR78q&lb=1&s=A
Imagine this. You're on this train called Your Life. It's on a track you're reasonably familiar with. It's been taking you to the stations of your life. The grade school station passes by. The college station passes. The early married life goes by. The stations are coming quicker. When you're older you begin to notice this train has been heading into a fog the whole time. You never noticed it when you were younger but there it is, as the stations are going by seemingly faster and faster, you notice in a bit of desperation that you can't see very far because of this fog. "Damn" you think to yourself. "How can I prepare. How can I anticipate. How can I be ready when I can't see ahead."
Instead of looking at the front you run to the back of this train on the track of life and stare out the caboose to see where you've been. You're hoping that looking backward, where you've been, somehow you'll see where the train is taking you. As you're looking backwards on this track on the racing train, you realize something really important. You realize you've been on the back of the train looking backwards trying to drive it.
This is a gigantic metaphor. Hang with me because the metaphor is important. What's important is you might not realize you're on the back of the train looking backwards.
Today's world is rapidly changing. The challenges are many varied and fast coming. The problem is when dealing with these things normal conventional tactics simply are not sufficient. What I'm going to talk about is the critical ingredient to whatever approach you take is creativity. I can't cover everything in this article about why creativity is important. All I'm going to do is explain the problem as a starting point. Later, I'll get to the creativity part.
First of all let's talk about creativity. When someone asks you "are you creative" you might respond negatively the older you are. When you ask your kids if they're creative, they'll say yes. If you ask your grandparents, they'll likely say no. Why is that? For some people creativity is valued less as an adult. Conformity and toting the line is valued more. A least that's the situation in cooperate America.
Have you ever noticed the relationship between successful companies and those that embrace rows and rows of cube farms? How about those companies that aren't adaptable and agile. Do you think some of them have those cube farms. (I'm not picking on cube farms. Just know before there was data supporting how cube farms weren't good organizational practices we all knew they were uncomfortable and. Why is that?)
Let me make this observation, some of the most obviously successful companies in the world embrace their creative individuals. Apple computer, the "Think Different" company, comes to mind. There are obviously others. Successful companies embrace creatives.
The world is rapidly changing. While we all might be used to this and think change has always been the norm, let me point out some observations that make today's days different than other eras.
The world's population of human beings is expanding at seemingly increasing rates. At the start of the 19th century took 127 years to expand from one to two billion humans. To go from six to seven billion it only took 12 years.
In 1950, there were 106 sovereign states. In 2008, there were 194.
In 1436, the information revolution began with the Gutenberg press. Fast forward 400+ years, you get the telegraph. Advance another 75 years, you get wireless. You see a trend here?
In 1990 there were only seven million Internet users. Most of them were in the USA. The rest were in Western Europe. By 2010, the number is about two billion. Just this April 2012, Facebook passed 900 million worldwide users. Just seven years ago when I was almost ready to retire from the USAF it just passed a million.
In 1912, the Titanic sank on day four of a week long voyage, losing 1500 people. Today, 5 times that number safety travel between Kennedy and Heathrow in mere hours every single day. Let me emphasize, in a single day. Not only that, these people get there strapped to a seat flying through the middle of the air. Flying through the air! Imagine what that might be thought about by tourists taking a boat from Euorpe to the US in 1912.
The year 1918 not only saw the end of WWI, it also saw the beginning of the Spanish Flu pandemic. Even with antiquated transportation of the day, the flu spread throughout the world resulting in a low estimate of 50 million fatalities, a 20 percent mortality rate. What would happen with today's much more efficient transportation system through predominately open borders.
I can only imagine what will happen in 10 years. How about 20 years. Damn, if you're like me, you should want to know what to do tomorrow. It's mind boggling.
Yet, we're on the caboose looking backwards.
The next article will get into why I think we're on the caboose barely hanging on without a care in the world.