7 Shifts in the Age of Op­por­tu­nity

Rotman Management Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By Frank Spencer

Cre­at­ing a fu­ture in which hu­man­ity thrives de­mands that we re-frame our ap­proach to life and the way in which we see the world.

I have had the priv­i­lege IN MY WORK AS AN IN­NO­VA­TION STRATE­GIST, of wit­ness­ing a global pat­tern aris­ing over the past decade. Not only does it have a dis­tinct form and defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics, but it is also de­mon­strat­ing di­rec­tion: pur­pose, evo­lu­tion, uni­ver­sal de­vel­op­ment — call it what you will, but a shift is afoot that is al­ter­ing the fun­da­men­tal con­cepts that have gov­erned the way we have lived for the past cen­tury.

Much like the shift from the agri­cul­tural age to the in­dus­trial age, we are now see­ing the emer­gence of a new set of un­der­ly­ing rules and con­cepts about how the world works. Driven by the mesh­ing of ex­po­nen­tially-ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy, global knowl­edge cre­ation, a tran­sient work­force, the for­ma­tion of new col­lab­o­ra­tive eco­nomic sys­tems, the rise of dis­rup­tive ed­u­ca­tional mod­els and rapidly-fluc­tu­at­ing de­mo­graph­ics, these new un­der­ly­ing con­cepts are no pass­ing phase that can be ‘tol­er­ated’ or avoided by ap­ply­ing the think­ing from a pre­vi­ous age — any more than the in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion could have been avoided by re-ap­ply­ing agri­cul­tur­ally-minded prin­ci­pals. You might be won­der­ing, “What are the rules and char­ac­ter­is­tics of this new era?” My re­search has led me to de­fine seven ma­jor shifts within the larger con­text of what I call the Age of Op­por­tu­nity:

• From Me­chan­i­cal to Or­ganic • From Closed to Open • From Si­los to Mesh­ing • From Lin­ear to Mul­ti­ples • From Data to Pat­terns • From Scarcity to Abun­dance • From Pasts to Fu­tures

In this ar­ti­cle I will de­scribe each shift in de­tail, in­clud­ing how busi­nesses and so­cial ar­chi­tects can ap­ply these shifts to dis­cover trans­for­ma­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and reach as­pi­ra­tional to­mor­rows.

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