It’s a mistake to believe that those things we view as permanent are inherently so: just because something is familiar does not mean that it is permanent. This was on my mind today talking about cars: against a background of travel, I drove my car 580 miles last year, not a high tally by any standard. The rest of the time it sat in the driveway, purposeless, and slowly rusting. We have seen the rise of shared car services, and now, in America at any rate, the building of new condominiums that have no parking spaces and no public transport infrastructure, but instead that come with Uber vouchers. The thinking is that it is cheaper to subsidise shared rides then it is to build infrastructure. So the model of car ownership that I grew up with is rapidly eroded both by my own reality and the social planning that takes place around it. This is true of many things.
Those things we think are cast in stone will be blown like leaves in the wind as the true disruption of the Social Age bites. There are very few areas likely to be resilient to this: two weeks ago I was talking about the future of democracy itself in Canada against the backdrop of increased social connectivity and engagement. We are seeing the widespread disruption of financial services and healthcare. We are seeing the disruption of education and manufacturing through MOOCs and 3d Printing and Maker Spaces.
Take healthcare: historically healthcare was something we did as an exceptional activity. We were ill: we sought help. With the widespread integration of wearable technology and monitoring devices, we will see a slow shift towards healthcare being part of our everyday, proactive, not reactive, supporting our enhanced performance, not simply to react to crisis.
Change is not only in the air: it’s embedded deep in our environment. Our challenge: to create organisations that are able to adapt, that are able to thrive in this new space. Nobody will give us this capability: we will have to earn it.
The belief that things are permanent will do nothing but delude us whilst the leaves blow around us and ultimately sweep us away.