05 Nov

Can we really wait for what we want? Or is the temptation of 'now' just too much to handle?

Not you?  When was the last time you didn’t strive to get what you wanted straight away. Not you?  Well think about technology in your life. Maybe you have Alexa in your living room, satnav in your car, use Uber, feast on  Netflix or your company has moved to more remote working technology allowing you to be ‘hybrid’ - finally. It might be hard to argue that instant gratification is somewhere in your life. And if not then I applaud you. 

Innovation (big I or small i) is an amazing aspect of human life with us since the big bang or whatever else made us all be here. And because of the ‘chip’ we can innovate at a pace that in unparalleled in our history. We can look to the high street names that always get mentioned when the I word is spoken but what about the unknown people in every corner of the planet who create innovations that are free - think App stores and communities of all shapes and sizes. And what about your own innovative spirit? Look at your photos on your smartphone, how you navigate air travel or how you repurpose everyday things that don't even have a digital pulse!

And with this innovation comes confidence. Technology gives us certainty that we are heading the right direction. The spreadsheet might be the modern-day metaphor for confidence allowing us to record, share and predict performance whether as a small business or a conglomerate. And now we have Artificial Intelligence and drones the future is bright as we continue to achieve things - big and small - unimaginable even 5 years ago. 

So if we add innovation with confidence what do we get? Speed. Or agility. Whatever word rocks your boat. And we need speed because as humans we know deep down that fight or flight is our fundamental survival toolkit. So going faster aided and abetted by technology allows us to be smarter than we were, to stay ahead of competitors and to survive the inevitable bumps in the road. And these bumps. Wow do they come more often. 

I used to talk about VUCA - coined post-Cold War to describe the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we found ourselves in. But recently I heard the word ‘permacrisis’ to describe the era of instability and insecurity. And if this doesn’t get to you consider that in the English language the words Agile and Fragile use a lot of the same letters! Who knew. 

Anti-fragility is the name of the game. And the trilogy of temptation is the sum of all the parts - innovation confidence and speed - that can be both agile and fragile. A characteristic of our personal and business life that can bite us on the backside at any moment in seems - ask the supply chain people when the ship ran aground in the Suez or the pasta industry when war broke out in Ukraine or when the internet drops more than it used to? Or is that my imagination. 

Is there an antidote? Well there is IMHO no piece of technology that is the answer. It will take humans to delay their gratification just for a second or two to ask themselves three questions; Do we really understand the problem ahead of us, do we really understand the impact we are placing on fellow humans and do we believe the people telling us the story of success and prosperity.

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