by Pierre Coupet
I know you are probably wondering what the hell this headline could possibly have anything to do with virtual organization management, however, sit back and relax because in a few minutes it's going to make a great deal of sense.
Resistance to Change
I know that the phrase "resistance to change" is something that we're not only all familiar with but something that is embedded in just about every single living creature's DNA, including us human beings. As well, any historian or anthropologist can find a link between the downfall of any great civilization and the level of that civilization's resistance to change. The level of that civilization's resistance to change can be measured in terms of its culture; its political, military, economic, educational, and religious institutions and leaders; and the abilities of these institutions and leaders to adapt to change.
The more an individual, organization, or society is willing to adapt to change - instead of relentless praising itself and its spectacular achievements, continuing to bask in its glory and good fortune, and either ignoring or taking a very timid approach to examining these winds of change - then the more likely it becomes possible for it to survive and continue to prosper. And since nothing lasts forever, the longer it will take for them to eventually crumble and give way to the new guard. As well, the reverse is true.
If that's the case, then one might ask why we are so reluctant to adapt to change when the overwhelming body of evidence accumulated throughout the entire history of mankind and since the beginning of time seems to clearly indicate that this mindset works to our own detriment and will eventually cause our own downfall.
We Are All Thoughts and Ideas
The answer lies in each and everyone of us. Whether we want to admit it or not - confining my observations to living human beings - we are all a collection of thoughts and ideas that we call the self. Thoughts and ideas that are generated every second of our lifetime. One thought or idea builds upon the other, from one second at a time | to one minute at a time | to one hour at a time | to one day at a time | to one week at a time | to one month at a time | to one year at a time | all the way through the last day of our lives.
The very First Thought and Idea generated during the first second of our life, Today, wants to stay alive and remain relevant and doesn't want things to change. It understands that when the next second arrives, the First Thought and Idea is now going to become Yesterday and will then become irrelevant, antiquated, or obsolete, and that the Second Thought and Idea about to be generated will now take its former place and become the new Today and Tomorrow. So, Today, soon to become Yesterday and jealous of the upcoming Today and Tomorrow - immediately concocts a plan to manipulate the next thought and idea about to be generated the next second, so that the Second Thought and Idea essentially becomes a clone of The First Thought and Idea, except for some minor variations or cosmetic changes. To prevent the manipulation from being unraveled, a strong dose of fear and anxiety is injected into the Second Thought and Idea so that any attempt at veering in a different direction will be met with a great deal of resistance. And that process repeats itself over and over, ad infinitum, until the end of our lives.
So, if we are to accept this theory, then the logical conclusion is that the self, which we call the individual, is at a minimum a collection of 86,400 Thoughts and Ideas per day (86,400 seconds per day) times the number of days we have lived. Therefore, since I am 57 years old, I am, at a minimum, a collection of 86,400 thoughts and ideas x 57 years x 365 days, which comes to 1,797,552,000 Thoughts and Ideas. We are talking about almost 2 billion Thoughts and Ideas for one person.
Which explains the reason why the friend, brother, sister, father, mother, uncle, cousin, teacher, and neighbor that you knew when you were 2 years old is essentially the same person that you now know at the age of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or 100. That is, of course, assuming that both you and them are still alive. The age, the time, the year, the circumstances, their education, their economic situation, their political leanings, and their social status may have changed - these things which I call minor variations and cosmetic changes - but nonetheless the essence of that person has remained the same.
Why We Are Resistant to Change
And since these very same people are an integral part of these cultures, and political, military, economic, educational and religious institutions -- some of whom eventually become our leaders -- then it becomes very easy to understand why these cultures and institutions themselves are so resistant to change.
A Golden Age of Uneven Progress
To illustrate, WE now live in a Golden Age, an era of unlimited opportunities. We live on a planet that is abundant in natural resources. We, the human race, have been blessed with such a vast amount of knowledge, resources and advanced technologies that, if we could quickly transport ourselves to a time as recent as only 2000 years ago - or even 200 years ago - in order to give our ancestors a glimpse of their future in terms of technologies and resources, our ancestors would surely think that we were a race of gods or have been blessed by gods.
Yet, on the other hand, if we were to give them a glimpse of life as it really is in the 21st century, our politics, our political and economic systems, the multitude of religions we have and the rituals we still engage in, the way that most people live in most parts of the world, the way we think and act and treat our fellow human beings, the way we rule ourselves, the way we teach and rear our children, the asinine wars we fight over resources that are artificially scarce but really aplenty, the ever more destructive weapons we are able to unleash on our brothers and sisters, the world wars that are supposed to end all wars and bring peace to mankind, the endless and perennial wars and revolutions in the name of ideology, religion, freedom, justice and democracy, the genocides occurring in all parts of the world, the children of Abraham still wreaking havoc and destruction on each other as well as threatening each other with weapons able to annihilate them all and how they rationalize their behavior - then, they, meaning our ancestors, would say, wow, we're not so bad and they really haven't made that much progress after all. As the French novelist Alphonse Karr stated, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
We possess every bit of knowledge and piece of technology and resource known to mankind that is needed in order to turn deserts into lush green landscapes, to bring electricity and renewable energy to every corner of the globe, to make the most advanced education available to every single man, woman and child, to bring prosperity to every single human being on the planet, to make the most advanced healthcare available and affordable to every single human being and creature that roams the earth, to clean up the environment and our lakes and rivers, to protect us all against natural catastrophes and man-made disasters, to make war such a primitive and beastly idea and notion that just the thought or mention of it would cause one to recoil in horror, and to explore and populate other planets.
And yet, we are as dogmatic and asinine and cruel as ever. Poverty and ignorance still is rampant in most parts of the world. War is still fought in the name of God, religion, peace, freedom of the seas, access to economic and natural resources, and regurgitated ideology as old as time itself . The more we learn and the more technology and resources we gain access to, the more arrogant, repressive and dictatorial we become, the more ignorance and stupidity and rituals we cling to, the more destruction we are inclined to level on each other, and the better we become at rationalizing our behavior. In fact, we are the planet's indisputable champion when it comes to rationalizing our behavior, which now gives me an excellent opportunity to segue into the reason for this article in the first place and what this has to do with virtual organization management.
A Case for Adoption of Virtual Organization Management
Think for one minute. Today, this very minute, our freeways are choked up with deadly air pollution every morning as people engage in a daily ritual of getting up and getting dressed for work, and all of them getting on the road at nearly the same time in order to get to a central workplace where they are provided access to the tools they need to do their work. This deadly air pollution not only pollutes our environment and our ozone layer but also goes into our lungs and causes all sorts of cancers and diseases. After an 8-10 hour day, the same ritual is repeated and the air and our lungs get a second dose of that deadly poison.
But, for most workers, it does not have to be this way since we are now living in this new and golden era that I call the New Virtual Organization World. Why, you might ask? That's because we now have: (i) the virtual technology which makes possible a virtual workspace; (ii) a virtual workforce that is capable of using the virtual technology, but also (iii) the virtual organization management discipline - the final component of what is needed in order to create virtual organizations that make this daily and deadly ritual a thing of the past.
The same can also be said for educating our children. In spite of all the talk about innovating in the classroom, we're still educating our children and future workforce, and "future teachers," pretty much the same way that we have been doing it over the past thousands of years. With all the advances we've made in science and technology - and particularly in virtual technology and virtual organization management - I could write a 13-volume encyclopedia on how to make world-class, 21st century education available and affordable to every single human being on the face of the earth, and at one tenth the cost of what we now incur to educate those who are privileged enough to have access to an education. The technology and economic resources are plenty - in fact, I dare say that we are awash in both resources - and yet I still hear on a daily basis how our entire educational infrastructure here in the U.S. is crumbling and how we need to infuse more money into it in order to make a good education affordable to all. The saddest part of it all is that I am absolutely positive that I am not the only one who sees it that way and that, perhaps, there are hundreds, if not thousands of others, who either have a partial solution or the solution to this endemic problem.
The need for all of our institutions to adopt the virtual organization management discipline - whether they are businesses, governments, educational institutions, public policy sectors etc. - in order to create virtual organizations is paramount. Its adoption will not only make this archaic practice and deadly daily ritual of getting on the freeway to go to work totally unnecessary but it will also transform our entire business, political and economic system and the way we think and act and relate with each other. It will force us to look at things in ways that were previously unimaginable and spur the sort of "real innovation" that we are capable of and which is within our reach.
Dealing with Yesterday's Jealousy of Today and Tomorrow
So now that we know how Yesterday acts and also understand Yesterday's motives, how do we break out of that cycle that allows us to gain access to the tools and resources of gods but yet leaves us with our Stone Age mentality? If only it were an us vs. them battle, then the answer would be very easy. However, as you all now know, it's really a battle that needs to be fought within ourselves. The demons are within us, and therefore, we must be careful how we respond to ourselves. Although our natural tendency is to wage war against an enemy in order to win, that is not something that we can afford to do and that's where innovation needs to kick in.
Instead of thinking about fighting, we need to embrace all of our Yesterdays and make peace with them by thanking them for the positive contribution they have made to mankind, for all the knowledge and resources that they have bestowed upon us. We need to let them know that we will always carry them in our hearts and souls and that they will never be forgotten or become obsolete, antiquated and irrelevant. We need to let them know - in my case, almost 2 billion of them - that our pursuit of progress is not a rejection of what they have already given to us or bestowed upon us and that, instead, it's an expression of thanks, gratitude and acknowledgement of what they have done for us as well as the lessons, positive or negative, they have taught us.
Once we, Today and Tomorrow, approach each Yesterday in this regard, then it will no longer feel the need to continue to clone itself and prevent us from making the strides that we ought to have made, in light of all the advances in knowledge and technology we have made since the beginning of mankind. Yesterday will no longer feel jealous of Today and Tomorrow because it feels very secure in knowing that the upcoming Today and Tomorrow is only possible because of Yesterday and Yesterday will never be forgotten or become antiquated and irrelevant. It will allow each Today and Tomorrow to chart its own course for the betterment of not only mankind but also the entire planet. And every Yesterday will be delighted to echo what my late father Joseph A. Coupet used to tell me all the time when I was a little kid growing up, in order to spur me to excel and make headway, "la ou l'eleve ne depasse pas le maitre, il n'y a pas de progres." Translated, it means "where the student does not pass the master, there is no progress."
And this, my friends, is a formula and recipe which can be applied in every facet of our lives in our search for innovation, enlightenment and the pursuit of happiness.
on The New Virtual Organization World Consortium