The scientific method, combined with over things, led us to ask why often and to break things down to ever smaller parts to learn. This led to millions of discoveries and an explosion of knowledge. All in all a good thing.
The scientific method, combined with over things, led us to breaking down nations, societies, communities, cultures, and families to the individual. We learnt an enormous amount about ourselves and our interactions with others and groups. Again, this has had positives to it.
The focus on the building blocks and the individual has also led us to the short term. The here and now. What is my wealth today, this year, this decade? What is right for me? We push the negative aspects away calling them externalities and so on. We think about our next performance review, our bonus, and so on.
Thinking about the next decade or our lifetime is viewed as too long a timeframe. Thinking beyond our lives is too complex. And yet, being able to hold, no embrace, the complexity, to ‘complexify’ ourselves and see the interconnectedness of life. To see the long term – lifetimes – is perhaps the most needes skill on the planet now.
Pause for a moment and reflect on this. A friend of mine’s father celebrated his 95th birthday recently, think about the changes in his lifetime. What have been positive? What have been unintentional? There is massive shifts in the past 95 years. And what happens if you go back two lifetimes – 190 years. And then look at a part of life – food, health, technology, energy.
Most things are ‘better’ individually. And yet, as we begin to see the ‘whole’ as well as the ‘parts’, we realise how we feed ourselves impacts our health as well. Collecting more and more minute datapoints about our lives impacts our mental health, the abuse we face, and the negative surprises we face.
As change makers we can get caught up in the short term too. We can forget about the connectedness of things. Digital transformation is no different. We are so enamoured with the shiny toy and the ‘newness’ of things, we are unwilling to think what does this lead to in 10 years.
As Marshall McLuhan writes, “We drive into the future using only our rear view mirror.” However, sometimes it seems like we’ve throw out the rear view mirror. However, like any driver instructor will tell you, we need to pay attention to our surroundings – look in the rear view AND the side mirrors, but spend most of our time looking forward to anticipation what is coming. Looking at ourselves inside the car will only lead to tragedies.