Welcome to the world “beyond risk”: Volatility; Uncertainty; Complexity; Ambiguity


Illiteracy has long been recognised as an issue that “advanced economies” must address and, although I am no expert on the subject, I get the impression that great strides have been made and education is more widely available than at any point in our history. So, the question arises: why do educated people (and nations) still keep doing such really stupid things to each other, our planet and economy? 

The answer MAY lie in this great quote from Alvin Toffler:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

This quote crops up in a presentation that could go some way to explaining our predicament…

Political, Financial and Business leaders in the sophisticated, advanced, Western World have lost the art of listening and are intent upon clinging desperately to the belief systems that got them where they are. Despite the fact that the depth of the flaws have been exposed time, after time, after time!

We aren’t talking about stupid people here but so there must be other actors at work. The paradox is that these people…some refer to them as the 1%…pour more energy and financial resource into attempting to extend the patterns that served them so well in a different (industrial – linear) era, preferring to ignore the historical lessons about the failure and collapse of complex (non-linear) entities, e.g. societies, empires, corporations.

Whether due to ignorance or arrogance, treating uncertainty as risk is a serious Governance issue: 

The uncertainty associated with the status quo is preferred to that associated with “change”  – even though evidence suggests that the former course is only increasing the likelihood of failure – so it appears to be an unwillingness, at CxO level, to listen, unlearn and relearn rather than an inability of global systems to adapt for survival.

This is something that affects each and every one of us. But “they” aren’t listening and decry those that call for and present a robust case for change. Don’t be silent! For your sake and for the sake of future generations make sure your opinion counts.

“In describing today’s accelerating changes, the media fire blips of unrelated information at us. Experts bury us under mountains of narrowly specialized monographs. Popular forecasters present lists of unrelated trends, without any to show us their interconnections or the forces likely to reverse them. As a result, change itself comes to be seen as anarchic, even lunatic.”   

Alvin Toffler

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