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Re-thinking

You know when something really serious in happening when wilful blindness goes centre stage.

I notice this morning that the CBI is lobbying for people to be made to go back to their offices so that the service industry that supported those offices can survive.

That has something of the same logic as buggy whip manufacturers trying to stop the development of the automotive industry at the beginning of the last century. Or the vision that said the world would never need more than five computers (Thomas Watson, IBM president 1943) or that  “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr Epstein” (Decca’s Dick Rowe 1962)

We feel a certain sense of unfairness when the future doesn’t match our predictions, or the neat models we’ve created of how the world works fail to keep up with reality, and reality is what we’re facing.

Our reality right now is that:

  • We produce far, far more than we need in search of continuing growth.
  • Perpetual economic growth is a clear fallacy – like perpetual motion.
  • Much of what we produce is “single use” trivia incurring high levels of waste.
  • We’re using the resources at our disposal faster than they can recover.
  • Anything we can do to bring about a greater sense of balance is vital.

Losing office space, commuting and other unnecessary travel, peripheral services, carbon based energy and the rest will be painful and disruptive in the short term, but is the price we need to pay to thrive in the longer term.

Scaring people into compliance in pursuit of what’s gone is foolish. We need to deal with what’s emerging.

New imperatives and opportunity are staring us in the face. Shutting our eyes to them and pretending we can somehow go back does not serve us.

This is going to be gloriously difficult, but more than worth it.

We need leaders with the courage to understand that.

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