Roland Dürre
Sunday February 10th, 2013

Future – Volatile, Disruptive, Unpredictable!

At Christmas time, we sing:

O thou happy, o thou holy, glorious peace-bringing Christmas time!

And today, I will sing the song of the future:

O thou volatile, o thou disruptive, unpredictable future time!

Volatile – what a nice new fashionable word. Volatility as the illness of apocalyptic times. Five years ago, I still had to look it up. And today, I keep hearing it far too often, accompanied by far too many and mostly very empty nouns. All of a sudden, everything has turned volatile.Not to mention disru

ptive! This attribute only found its way into my consciousness two years ago. But I learned quite fast to apply it more and more often. It is also a good adjective to use if you need a killer phrase. For instance if you want to refuse concepts that seem sensible but you personally do not like.  You just have to say things like: “and what are we going to do if something disruptive happens?”. Immediately, everybody will get scared and – thank God –  nothing more will be said about it.
The newest development is that now all sorts of people tell me about the “unpredictable future “.
The entire science of management always tried to tell us entrepreneurs that future was something you could “make”. They said an enterprise can be planned and controlled with just the same amount of precision as a machine or a car-trip. They actually said all you had to do in order to make good decisions was collect information and then evaluate it correctly. That was the message in a nutshell. The same “management wisdom” is also available a little more detailed and seemingly even more convincing using five or seven sentences. There was a time when I, myself, fell for it.
All you had to do was “profile“ your employees correctly. Then you could assign them to deterministic processes and roles easily and totally mechanically. It was all to happen for the improvement of the sole growth criteria: turnover and marge. “Shareholder value” was the only entrepreneurial goal.

And now the business becomes volatile and is threatened by disruptive events. And, to make matters worse, the future is no longer predictable. Regardless of the fact that  Hans Ulrich (the “founder“ of the St. Gallen Management Model at St. Gallen) formulated his theses about “Change in Management (Wandel im Management)” as early as the beginning of the 1980ies.

Now, even Academica starts voicing doubts about their basic believes. Well, it is never too, late, is it? Uncertainty starts invading the brains. “In former times, everything was better, anyway”.

On the other hand – would it not be sensible and nice if we became a little more modest? And perhaps the more and more frequent use of these kinds of anti-words and sentences is only a (for me: positive) signal that more and more persons understand that they are, after all, not deity. Neither are they  “Creation’s Crowning Glory”. Rather, they are just very complex mammals (and I rather like the species).

Life as such has always been volatile, disruptive and unpredictable, hasn’t it? Everything else happens only inside our heads. Fear, religion, truth, …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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