Creating the Corporate Future
(Wiley, 1981). )
OUR CHANGING CONCEPT OF THE WORLD
There is a certain relief in change, even though it is from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach,
that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.
Change itself is constantly changing. This is reflected in the widespread recognition of its accelerating rate. For
example, the speed with which we can travel has increased more in our lifetimes than it has over all the time before our
births. The same is true for the speed with which we can calculate, communicate, produce, and consume.
Change has always been accelerating. This is nothing new, and we cannot claim uniqueness because of it. There are,
however, some aspects of the changes we are experiencing that are unique. These are responsible for much of our
preoccupation with change.
First, although technological and social change have been accelerating almost continuously, until recently this has been
slow enough to enable people to adapt, either by making small occasional adjustments or by accumulating the need to
do so and passing it on to the next generation. The young have always found it easier than the old to make the
necessary adjustments. Newcomers to power have usually been willing to make changes that their predecessors were
unwilling to make.
In the past, because change did not press people greatly, it did not receive much of their attention. Today it presses hard
and therefore is attended to. Its current rate is so great that delays in responding to it can be very costly, even
disastrous. Companies and governments are going out of business every day because they have failed to adapt to it or
they have adapted too slowly. Adaptation to current rapid changes requires frequent and large adjustments of what we
do and how we do it. As the eminent student of management Peter Drucker put it, managers must now manage
discontinuities. The changes in management required to handle change have become a major concern to all those
associated with it.
Human beings seek stability and are members of stability-seeking groups, organizations, institutions, and societies.
Their objective may be said to be "hornostasis," but the world in which this objective is pursued is increasingly
dynamic and unstable. Because of the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of individuals, groups,
organizations, institutions, and societies brought about by changes in communication and transportation, our
environments have become larger, more complex, and less predictable-in short, more turbulent. The only kind of
equilibrium that can be obtained by a light object in a turbulent environment is dynamic-like that obtained by an
airplane flying in a storm, not like that of the Rock of Gibraltar.
We can drive a car down a deserted turnpike in good weather with few changes of direction and acceleration; hence we