the blog Synergy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Seeking Stability in an Unstable World

Seeking Stability in an Unstable World neatly summarises my view that many managers and staff in organisations want the world to metaphorically "stand still for a day or two" so they can catch up and enjoy some stability and predictability. But:

Knowledge, information and speed force us to carry on at a faster pace – “just to keep up” with the way things are developing and changing. In other words, many want to see a semblance of order, process and structure - but - we live and work in unstructured organisations where those facets simply do not exist any more - a fascinating paradox.

My view about coping with the current environment is essentially pragmatic. I believe we must learn to live in the unstable world of unpredictability - bordering on chaos – then rise above it to a state where we welcome, encourage and celebrate change.

Throughout history, people have risen to challenges. The current Information Technology “revolution” presents us another massive challenge. I believe history will record that we are currently living through something as profound as both the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

A few simple anecdotes illustrate the changes.

1 I am old enough to remember the introduction of the Electric (please note electric not electronic!) typewriter in the early 1970’s. At that time I worked as a teenager in a clerical job in my local hospital. The person supervising the typists in our medical records office was an experienced woman approaching retirement. She had been trained and brought up on manual typewriters. She said “these Electric Typewriters will never replace the manual” - WOW!! - I wonder how she would feel now - some few years later and a mere “blink of the eye” in historical terms. It seems everyone who has an office desk, has a personal computer as part of their must have survival kit. We all do our own word processing – we are all our own secretary and we are all producing self regulated quality in the product that comes out of the printer.

2 Nowadays, I hardly ever send a letter through the post. Somehow the process of licking an envelope; folding my letter carefully; placing it in an envelope; licking another piece of paper called a stamp; and then posting that envelope into a box; for someone to – hopefully – deliver, seems an almost antiquated process.

3 When did I last go to my bank? I can now manage my finances from the comfort of home via on line banking without reference to another human being. Yet I still remember very well the days when at 3.30 pm on a Friday if you had not got the cash to get you through the weekend then “forget it chum” - the banks were closed till Monday morning. Now if I need cash at 3 am (though god knows why I would need it) I can walk down the road to my nearest cash point and get it.

4 Could I possibly have even dreamed in my youth that: “Take away” food would mean anything more than “fish and chips” - or that …. not only is there a vast choice of take away food - but I can actually sit in my car – order my food, pay for it – then drive round to the other side of the shop to collect it and eat it in the car without even having to exercise my limbs - other than reaching out of the window to pay the assistant.

5 As a youngster working in my local hopsital I saw patients - complete with their eye patches - lying in hospital beds for days, as they recovered from their “major surgery” to remove cataracts. Nowadays it is only a slight exaggeration to say patients can “slip away” for an hour at lunchtime, during their busy working day to have cataracts removed through laser surgery.


  • At 3:33 AM, Blogger Rocky said…

    The technological revolution has changed the world dramatically and will continue to do so. The large bustling offices are already affected. Many people simply work from home. I cannot imagine the changes in the next 5-10 years. the fastest technology grows the faster things change. It is amazing and mind boggling.

  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger Rosa Say said…

    Trevor, this is but another reason why I love your simplicity message so much: as our world gets more complex, and changes as dramatically as you and Rocky have pointed out, we need to remain solidly rooted in the person-to-person interactions which ground us and keep us healthy. I believe that is where our stability is to be found. No matter what the change, we can deal with it better - and flow toward the positives it can promise us - when we are surrounded by the aloha of those people we care for most.

  • At 5:09 AM, Blogger Steve Sherlock said…

    Yes, maintaining the human aspects of technology is very important! The design of the device itself needs to enable the human body (i.e. to avoid BlackBerry thumb). The use of the device must not get in the way or change our own personal interactions. I think of the cell phone and a bad connection, causing frustration for at least one side of the conversation, who then takes it out on the caller (get better service!) instead of continuing the conversation they had.

  • At 10:00 AM, Blogger omm said…

    Rosa, I totally agree with you.

    Do you think possible re. that stability that can facilitate dealing with change that has something to do with the current state of the "family unit"?

    That ability for dealing with this changing technological world could it be also in relationship with state of moral standards and principles?

  • At 4:48 AM, Blogger Trevor Gay said…

    Thank you folks - excellent comments - I love the banter:-)


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