The second economy: McKinsey Quarterly – Strategy – Growth


If you haven’t read any of my previous blogs or the rapidly growing catalogue of articles and reports on the subject, this article from McKinsey illustrates the sheer scale and pace with which complexity features in much of what, already, underpins life in modernity.

Every so often—every 60 years or so—a body of technology comes along and over several decades, quietly, almost unnoticeably, transforms the economy: it brings new social classes to the fore and creates a different world for business. Can such a transformation—deep and slow and silent—be happening today?

via The second economy – McKinsey Quarterly – Strategy – Growth.

Quite apart from a couple of "everyday" examples, one involving air travel and the other Global Supply Chain, I think that this extract really conveys the message:

If I were to look for adjectives to describe this second economy, I’d say it is vast, silent, connected, unseen, and autonomous (meaning that human beings may design it but are not directly involved in running it). It is remotely executing and global, always on, and endlessly configurable. It is concurrent—a great computer expression—which means that everything happens in parallel. It is self-configuring, meaning it constantly reconfigures itself on the fly, and increasingly it is also self-organizing, self-architecting, and self-healing.

These last descriptors sound biological—and they are. In fact, I’m beginning to think of this second economy, which is under the surface of the physical economy, as a huge interconnected root system, very much like the root system for aspen trees. For every acre of aspen trees above the ground, there’s about ten miles of roots underneath, all interconnected with one another, “communicating” with each other.

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