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Presence – A Warning Against Trying To Solve New Problems With Old Solutions

by Doug Davidoff | Jan 13, 2006 4:16:38 AM

I’m reading a fabulous book, Presence, by (among others) Peter Senge, famous for The Fifth Discipline.

While it’s not written specifically about growth, there’s an excerpt that explains the challenges that we are all facing these days as we try to grow our businesses. I don’t want you to miss it, so here it is:

In 1999, when Otto [Scharmer, a co-author] and Joseph [Jaworski, another co-author] first interviewed him, [Brian] Arthur talked about the need to “sense an emerging future” in order to meet the challenges of managing in an increasingly technology-based economy. As the pace of technological development quickens, so does the rate of what economist Joseph Schumpeter call “creative destruction” – of products, companies, and even entire industries. This leads, said Arthur, to the continual “forming, configuring, locking in, and decaying of structures.” Little is predictable or repetitive. Problems are not well defined. The rules of the game as well as the other players change rapidly as the stakes get increasingly higher. Overall, business operates less and less like “the halls of production of the old, repetitive manufacturing industry” and more and more like a kind of “casino of technology.” In this kind of business environment, making decisions based on the habits of past experience is no longer optimal and wise.

This excerpt is worth pausing for. The industrial age is over. Its concepts and formulas no longer work. We all need to find new ways to solve new problems. Think about it.

Until next time, Doug