Talk of psychohistory and precrime might seem better suited to a science fiction convention than an executive briefing. However, the more our world changes, the more we need to question our assumptions. And, therein lies the trap—we’ve become so accustomed to change that we don’t even realize that it’s happening any more.
There’s an apocryphal parable about a frog in boiling water. While not true, it suggests that a frog’s nervous system is sufficiently underdeveloped and that when it’s put in cold water and the water is slowly heated, the frog won’t know it’s in danger until it’s boiled alive. Apart from being pretty cruel to the frog, it carries another message. We, collectively, are that frog.
Our world has changed. It’s changing at such an accelerating rate that we’ve lost track of the speed. Perception is relative; at walking speed, someone running past us seems swift. On a highway, someone overtaking us seems fairly lethargic. To the runner, though, the two cars are terrifyingly fast.
Alvin Toffler, one of the world’s most famous futurologists, coined the term “future shock” in 1970.1 In his book Future Shock he argued that too much change in too short a period of time would lead to shattering stress and disorientation. This would create a society characterized by social paralysis and personal disconnection. The rate of change he predicted has come to pass. However, he got the impact backward.
We, as a society, have looked change in ...