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The management problem of the 21st century

Sander Duivestein
October 29, 2013

Technology used to be a manageable phenomenon. Nowadays technology seems to be a self-organising organism that touches and changes everything. Organizations should not underestimate this power. Resistance is futile. They should rather embrace new technology. Which is extremely difficult because it affects the organization at the core of its existence. Businessguru Clay Shirky once said, “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the problem”. The rapidly changing environment constantly requires new solution. However, organizations are not used to deal with accelerated change that is caused by all these new technologies. martecs_law_600 According to Scott Brinker the above figure shows the management problem of the 21st century. Technology changes exponentially, while organizations absorb change logarithmically. Brinker calls this thinking Martec’s Law, a law named after the blog where he shares his ideas. The exponential growth of technology is a direct derivative of Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns. For the logarithmic growth that an organization experiences, Brinker unfortunately has no evidence. It is based on empirical research. People and organizations simply need time change their thinking. So there is a limit to the speed at which an organization can change. As the exponential function is the inverse of the natural logarithm it becomes harder for an organization to transform at the same speed as technology changes as times passes by. The gap is getting bigger and bigger. At the end of the line it becomes even impossible. As in the current era exponentially growing technology is a fact, then organizations need a structure and a corresponding culture where accelerated change is the new normal. It requires an environment, a strategy in which experimentation and pioneering is the most common thing to do in order to be able to innovate. And that touches an organization in its core. It’s digital Darwinism. It’s adapt or die!

About the author

Trend Watcher – New Media, Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Sander Duivestein (1971) is a highly acclaimed and top-rated trendwatcher, an influential author, an acclaimed keynote speaker, a digital business entrepreneur, and a strategic advisor on disruptive innovations. His main focus is the impact of new technologies on people, businesses and society.


    One thought on “The management problem of the 21st century

    1. I could’nt agree more with this post.
      Sums it all up. I think if an organisation has a good solution to this problem they will leave the competition behind. If you work for such institution or organisation, you really should fight for the right for managers who are capable of managing these tech changes.
      “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the problem”.
      A sollution could be to involve the people (from all levels) who work for the company to help decide which tech should be adopted or not. Bring the power to change to the people who actually work with the tech.

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