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Chapter 1. Thinking in a World of Accele... > A Complex World of Accelerating Chan...

A Complex World of Accelerating Change

Can we deal with incessant and accelerating change and complexity without revolutionizing our thinking? Traditionally, our thinking has been designed for routine, for habit, for automation and fixed procedure. We learned how to do our job, and then we used what we learned over and over. But the problems we now face, and will increasingly face, require a radically different form of thinking, thinking that is more complex, more adaptable, and more sensitive to divergent points of view. The world in which we now live requires that we continually relearn, that we routinely rethink our decisions, and that we regularly reevaluate the way we work and live. In short, there is a new world facing us, one in which the power of the mind to command itself, to regularly engage in self-analysis, will increasingly determine the quality of our work, the quality of our lives, and perhaps even, our very survival.

Consider a simple feature of daily life: drinking water from the tap. With the increase of pollution, the poisoning of ground water, the indirect and long-term negative consequences of even small amounts of any number of undesirable chemicals, how are we to judge whether or not our drinking water is safe? Increasingly, governments are making decisions about how many lives to risk based on the financial consequence of saving them, about whether, for example, to put less money into the improvement of water quality at increased risks to human health. How are we to know whether the risk the government is willing to take with our lives is in line with our willingness to be at risk? This is just one of hundreds of decisions that require that we think critically about the ever-more changing world we face.


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