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A Special Series for the 2015 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship

Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information.

We asked a number of speakers to discuss the critical issues, challenges and opportunities underpinning their sessions in advance of the Forum to ground a richer debate both online and in Oxford.

Learn more about the 2015 Skoll World Forum, sign up to our newsletter to be notified of the live stream, view the 2015 delegate roster and discover what themes and ideas we'll be covering this year at the event.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What Happens When Disrupting Equilibria Becomes the Daily Norm?

What Happens When Disrupting Equilibria Becomes the Daily Norm?

April 5, 2015 | 5043 views

It is a fact that the rate of change has been accelerating since 1700.

It is also a fact that the demand for work based on repetition – now including intellectual and professional work – is going away along a downward-bending curve that mirrors this accelerating change.

For example, one of China’s largest and most successful lenders uses a self-correcting algorithm to make loans, rather than lending officers. A few decades ago computer-aided design replaced 40 percent of what architects used to do. Remote sensing technology allows an overflying plane to map lost cities, hidden for centuries in jungles, in mere hours – eliminating much of the field archeologist’s work. These are just a few examples.

Sally Osberg and Roger Martin have studied what causes changes in society’s basic equilibria. They point out that heretofore such disruptions of the status quo and all its comfortable arrangements have been rare and special, very much not the norm.

However, what happens when accelerating change, and corresponding declines in the need for repetition, make fundamental pattern change the daily norm?

That time is already here in some parts of the world, and will soon be the norm for everyone. Each change begets and accelerates more change as it bumps everything around it, setting off self-multiplying waves of change which now (thanks in part to the Internet) extend globally.

What will each of us have to do? First, perceive and master this new strategic reality. Second, help any organization we care about to become an open, fluid team of teams.

Third, live for the good of all and master the four complex, interdependent skills necessary to do so in a world defined by change: (1) cognitive empathy (far more than “I feel your pain.”); (2) sophisticated teamwork; (3) a new form of leadership; and (4) changemaking. And help our kids, friends, and co-workers do so as well!

How must we structure society for this new norm? How can social entrepreneurs, who will play an ever more central role, best organize? What institutional architecture – information flows, incentives, safeguards, and legal/financial patterns – will we have to put in place for this new norm to serve the world well?

 
 
 

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