21 October 2006

This Will Disrupt Everything

An increasing amount of attention is being paid to creativity and entrepreneurship within business schools and corporations. For now, the movement looks innocuous - a means to marginally improve business performance. Yet it will disrupt everything.

Entrepreneurship is the new limit to progress, just as land, capital,and knowledge work were in previous economies. But history indicates that adjusting to a new limit to progress is disruptive - changing social constructs as varied as the dominant way of thinking and the dominant institution. When capital replaced land as the limit to progress (a process of transformation that played out fully from about 1700 to 1900), it forced democratic revolutions, the rise of the bank and modern financial markets, and the adoption of Enlightenment thinking to take the place of the Renaissance mind. When knowledge workers replaced capital as the limit to progress (from about 1900 to 2000), it forced the transformation of financial markets, the rise of the modern corporation, and the adoption of pragmatism in place of Enlightenment thinking.

Just as an invisible underwater earthquake can trigger a tsunami that everyone notices, so does a shift in the limit to progress trigger social changes that no one escapes.

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