2040’s Ideas and Innovations Newsletter, Issue 61: 2022 Mid-Year Prediction: Unintended Consequences
Over the past two years in discussions with clients and the 2040 team, I have continued to raise the point that “ it ain’t over until the lady sings.” Many have already sung with sighs of relief and many more have yet to sing. In either case, the songs increase anxiety and confusion when the last notes are ambivalent, and the outcome is not assured.
The Center Will Not Hold
In many instances after the proverbial ladies have sung, organizations rock back in a state of surprise and amazement. “What happened” and “why” echo in the executive suite. At 2040, it is a head-scratcher that organizations are so blindsided. The “why” is that leadership is not paying attention to societal, organizational, and even their own blind spots. To quote William Butler Yeats, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” Just as the poet describes, we fail to see and connect the dots until we actually can see and connect them, if it’s not too late.
My ongoing concern is the lack of recognition of how interdependent everything is across our society. This is my “critical thinking prompt” for clients to wake up and connect the dots. What we see all the time is that an immediate decision intended to solve a particular problem or a new solution is often put into action without the recognition of the upstream or downstream, sideways, or vertical influences and consequences. Most if not all factors and variables across our world are networked with connective tissue. We operate in a finite ecosystem interdependent on our relationships, synergies, and survival. Yet we think we are independent operators and don’t recognize how our actions can impact and influence others — even worlds apart.
What typically shows up in organizations is that we live in the moment and focus on the short term. We are often reactionary and act in response to public sentiment and opinion, and the loudest voices in the room. Decisions, responses, and actions in the moment often do not look forward. Discerning interdependencies and influences by looking forward take energy, and critical thinking and requires each of us to work harder, seek to know what we don’t know, and get out of our comfort zones.