Kjell Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle came to the world’s attention thanks to their 1999 bestseller, Funky Business. Now, they pause to re-evaluate their original funky musings and pass judgement on the world of 2008 and beyond.
How has the world changed since 2000? Well, the first thing to note is that it has changed a great deal. Change is a fact of life. Tourists and refugees inhabit our world, says Italian artist Francesco Clemente – either you embrace change or you try to escape from it. The problem for the latter group is that, in an increasingly transparent and globally connected world, Motown’s Martha and the Vandellas were indeed right. There is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.
The big issue just got bigger. If you had to select one key issue on the world’s agenda, it must be climate change. Climate is no more and no less than the temperature over time in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Hurricanes, polar ice caps melting, tsunamis and so on are simply the effects of this. No business book can solve climate change, but a book can make a difference in shaping organizations and leaders who consider broader responsibilities than the balance sheet.
The trouble is that this has become increasingly difficult. There is something very similar to climate in our economic and social systems: the amount of information we pump out to our fellow human beings. In personal and organizational terms this can be as noxious as CO2 emissions are to the climate. Look around and think back. We have changed the climate in our societies beyond comprehension. And, when we change the social and economic climate, every human activity is affected – in politics, business, spirituality, education and beyond.
Sceptical? Well, look back at recent history. The Soviet Union fell because Moscow could not control the flow of information in and out of the country. The profusion of information meant that even the mighty Soviet system could no longer control its people. The transparency that follows from information being symmetrically and internationally distributed is extremely bad news for any dictator trying to bully citizens, customers or colleagues. Turn on Google Earth and take a tour of the democracies of the world. Think back to how many democracies existed 60 years ago.
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