We live in this world today and one might wonder: What are the key differences to a world of yesterday?
The thinkers of enlightenment saw a world resembling a giant clock around them characterized by causality and predictability. It allowed to be broken down into its parts and be studied as such independent parts or models. Insights emerged from this type of thinking like:
classical physics as a basis for industrial and technology achievements,
economics with it's assumption of efficient markets in equilibrium or rational independent agents,
medicine treating one faulty system at the time
and many more
The examples are numerous and surprisingly the approach is still prevalent in present day world. It worked in the past and it brought us unprecedented success and progress so why change it?
However, the world changed in the meantime. It morphed from a giant clock into an amorphous ever changing, interconnected and unpredictable environment surrounding us from all sides all at the same time.
The catchy acronym for present day world is VUCA. Understanding this acronym is important so let us look at it:
V- volatile- characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change
U - uncertain - not known beyond doubt
C - complex - a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts
A - ambiguous - capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways
Being a physicist I want to remark on the word "complex", which in contemporary physics includes an imaginary or unseen dimension and/or interrelatedness. Such system are usually called "quantum" and they are irreducible to simple components.
Such VUCA world behave in a novel ways and so called "black swan" events became much more frequent than in a classical world of yesterday. "Black swan" events are statistically not probable events which happen anyway wether they are tornados, droughts, torrential rains, floods, market crashes, disruptive companies, sudden waves of panic or dissent etc. making the world unpredictable. Hence, no surprise that many managers by now consider long term strategic planning to be exercise in pure futility.
So, how do we deal with this new world we have now?
When I look at the VUCA attributes of present day world and compare it to the quantum systems I see a surprising match.
To cut the long story short, if the above hypothesis of quantum nature is correct then we need to include principles of quantum physics not only to physics and developing new technology, but to navigate around our present day world as well. Moreover, we need new complex methodology and an experimental approach running in self learning feedback loops to match the world around us.
Otherwise we will just keep piling up the "unintended consequences" of our outdated type of thinking and approach to our surroundings whether in the form of global warming, plastics overload, chemical residua in water, .extinction of species, asphyxiating overregulation of every aspect of our life, civilization diseases etc.
Erickson Trainer of Four Quadrant Quantum Thinking course