Evolution Shift
A Future Look at Today
March 23rd, 2010

20th Century Versus 21st Century

In the past year I have found that framing conversations about certain topics with the context of being of the 20th century or of the 21st century to be clarifying for most people.

I have written extensively about humanity being in transition between the Information Age and the Shift Age.  Those who have heard me speak or read my writings come to understand and accept this.  That said, this is a higher concept than the simple reality of the calendar.  No one can dispute the numerical fact that we are 10% into the 21st Century, unless you want to debate whether the scientific concept of linear time verses the older concepts of cyclical time or chaotic time.

Once you start to look at the world, its’ institutions and both business categories and specific companies, through this 20th versus 21st century filter, things become clearer.

Here are some examples:

20th Century 21st Century
Automotive Chrysler Tesla
Airport domestic LaGuardia Denver International
Airport international Heathrow Montevideo
Media long list Internet
Political Parties Democratic


Energy fossil fuels alternative energy of all sorts
Organizations hierarchical flat
Transaction costs significant moving toward free
Production mass micro
Authority vertical horizontal

I could go on for pages, but the lists above should both provide clarity and food for thought.

A very simple way to look at the world is through this filter as it will bring clarity as to what will last and what won’t, to what will be significant and what will not be.  It is clear that companies created in the 20th century that do not transform themselves are at high risk.  While going from good to great, searching for excellence or re-engineering corporations were all good for 20th century businesses, only transformation and on-going re-invention will keep companies competitive in these next ten years.

People, societies and businesses can often get stuck in a context largely created in the past.  The ‘as long as it seems to be working, let’s keep doing it’ mindset hasn’t served large 20th century industries or companies very well these past few years.

On 01/01/10  I suggested  here that the 2010-2020 decade would be the Transformation Decade.  The definition of transformation is “a change in nature, shape, form or character of something”.  Any company, any business that does not do this in the next ten years will likely not be around in 2020.  This of course is particularly true of anything created in the 20th century.

Start to look at the world through this filter of is something 20th century or 21st century and you will start to suddenly see the future separating itself from the past as the past quickly falls away.

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In times of global uncertainty and disruption it takes a futurist to provide context and understanding.

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