February 23, 2010

Changes happening at higher speed

In the video that I embedded in this posting, Gary Hamel talks about the many changes going on today in many different areas. He touches, for example, upon environmental changes, changes within information technology, and demographic changes. Not least the changes within IT are, I think, worth noticing. The Internet - including social media / collaborative technologies / Web 2.0 tools - as well as mobile devices are not only developing at high speed in these days / weeks / months. They are also, more or less fundamentally, changing the way people work in / across several industries. Think, for example, about the way news is / increasingly will be delivered, and the way education is / increasingly will be done. The changes driven not least by ICT are so profound that a need for breaking the rules has developed.

Reflecting upon these as well as other changes that are happening in the world at an increasingly higher speed, I came to think about the paradox between continuous change and revolutionary change – a dilemma I wrote about in this posting. I also came to think about Blue Ocean Strategy and creative destruction. My thoughts are to which degree it is, today, often a better investment to tear down, rethink, and rebuild - than to repair? Here are a couple of examples:

Example # 1
When I was a child, I repaired my bicycle myself. And as bicycles and materials for bicycles did not, at that time, have the quality level that bicycles and bicycle materials have today, there was a need for continuously repairing bicycles. Today, I experience, that bicycles as well as materials for bicycles have gotten both better and cheaper, and that wages have gone up. In this regard, I also experience that less repair is being done today - compared to when I was a child.

Example # 2
Another example of an area where it is increasingly becoming a better investment to make / buy something new than to repair old is in housing. I remember, when I was growing up, people continuously repairing their own houses. The foundation of the house, the bricks, was more or less fixed although some people were building an extension to their houses. Housing developing was an ongoing process that was done by people living in them. Today, I experience – when driving around – that old houses are being torn down and replaced by new houses with different design and better materials that, for example, help reduce the amount of energy people use and increase the living quality. In other words, changes in housing today seem to be more about tearing down, rethinking and rebuilding new – than about repairing old. On the photo below is an example from one of the houses in Albisrieden, Zürich, where this is happening. In this regard, my wish is that the people who design the new houses - including the gardens around the houses - will work creatively, i.e. make something which is somewhat out of the ordinary, for example by involving people with different competencies and backgrounds in the development process, using solar panels on walls and roofs, more glass than concrete, using lights that are both functional and beautiful, as well as small gardens around the houses where people can grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and maybe play a few ballgames.





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