“Every few hundred years throughout Western history, a sharp transformation has occurred…In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later a new world exists. And the people born into that world cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. Our age is such a period of transformation” –Peter Drucker
Last year I wrote a series on The Purpose Economy, where I asserted that we are actually at the tail end of our current cycle of technological innovation, and on the cusp of a new big bang moment that will bring an entirely new cycle of innovation over the next half century. This is based on several sources, including economist, Carlota Perez’s book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, where she illustrates how society has undergone a new technological revolution about every half century for the last 250 years.
Each of those revolutions followed the same revolutionary sequence: (1) big bang moment / technological revolution, (2) financial bubble, (3) collapse, (4) golden age, and, finally, (5) political unrest. Since writing on the Purpose Economy last summer, I have watched the news and political debates in awe. Any doubt that we’re currently experiencing political unrest? Amazing how cyclical and predictable generations and the transformation they undergo are.
The latest example of this political unrest is Brexit. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this topic and the nuances of its political, economical and societal effects. But, this morning I read Ben Thompson’s post, The Brexit Possibility. As usual with Ben’s writing, I found this post thoughtful and considerate of the larger picture, while speaking to the underlying nuances. And, it touched on some themes that I believe align with the Purpose Economy with regard to the changes that our government, corporate and labor structures will need to undergo to succeed in the Purpose Economy. It’s also a reminder to not panic. We’ve been through these changes before. We’ll go through them again in another fifty years.
Below you’ll find an excerpt of Ben’s post and a link out to the full post. I hope you’ll take the time to read it. If you’re interested in learning more about the Purpose Economy, click here for the blog post, and below is the Slideshare presentation.
THE BREXIT POSSIBILITY by Ben Thompson.
While it is fine and useful to look at industries like TV or transportation or consumer packaged goods or retail in isolation, if you step back far enough all of these industries are interconnected and symbiotic. TV and our modern transportation system and big consumer packaged goods conglomerates and brick-and-mortar retail all came of age in the post World War II era, and all were built with the same assumptions like the importance of scale, controlling distribution, and crucially, that each other existed. There were positive feedback loops driving the growth of all of them together (and many other industries as well).
The implication of this symbiosis is that just as these different industries rose together, they will assuredly fall together as well, and indeed that is slowly but surely happening for all the reasons I detailed last week. For now, though, leave these particulars to the side; I’ll return to them later.
The key takeaway, and my starting point, is the realization that no single issue or company or industry or country stands alone: everything operates in systems, and both influences and is influenced by the system within which it operates. By extension, any change to one part of the system must impact and change other parts of the system: the greater the change, the greater the upheaval until the system can return to equilibrium. Sometimes, though, the change destroys the system completely.