Scaling the World as We Know It

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • We're living in a world of fundamental transition.
  • What we're seeing in many areas is "an increase in scale."
  • These increase are a set of interrelated transitions.

Wendell Bell believes that while we may not be able minimize the human suffering that we are seeing around the world, it might be useful to look at the period we’re living in as one of fundamental transition. He defines the term broadly as “an increase in scale” and see it more as a cluster of “more or less interrelated transitions.” Here's what he sees as the main scaling challenges:

Increase in the sheer number of people on the Earth

Increase in the average length of individual lives

Increase in density and geographical spread of humans throughout Earth and, eventually, into near and outer space

Increase in the scope, density, and speed of social interaction among people across time and space Increase in social boundaries such that more and more otherwise diverse people are included and in increase in the mobility of people, resulting in increasing face-to-face contacts between people of different races, societies and cultures

Increasing knowledge of the past, present and future as well as the increasingly widespread sharing of that knowledge

Increase in the power of human senses and capacities resulting from technological and genetic enhancements

Increase in the scope of individual’s core self-identities to include “human being” as an important part, and eventually an even greater widening to include a sense of commonality with all living beings on Earth and, perhaps, even beyond that, a sense of mutuality with life forms of other planets if contact with extraterrestrials is ever made

Increase in the scope of people’s empathy and concern for freedom and well-being of other people to include all human beings, both those now living and members of future generations and, eventually, an even wider future concern for all living beings

And, thus, increase in shared human concern for life-sustaining capacities of the Earth and, eventually, of other places in the universe into the indefinite future

The challenge for organizations is how to effectively deal with these transitions in the context of how they think about, conduct and deliver their products and services. At the same time, however, each of these transitions represents an opportunity to address new and evolving needs that may not even be fully articulated yet.

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