The Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century was a time when there were tremendous advances in all branches of human knowledge especially those related to scientific rationality.
Individuals involved in the enlightenment were known as ‘Free Thinkers.’ They were committed to critical inquiry emphasizing logic and reason. “Anything that could not be proven by science was regarded as unworthy of acceptance.”
Reason, logic and argument made sense in a world that was stable and predictable but we have entered a period of rapid acceleration and uncertainty.
Everything we’ve known, experienced, and understood is being turned inside-out.
- It has become increasingly difficult to predict new market opportunities. We can no longer base our decisions on precise data, forecasts or past experiences. We need to trust our intuition.
- Business is faced with unprecedented levels of ambiguity and uncertainty. We cannot wait until things become more certain. We must control uncertainty by acting.
- Globalization has created increasing levels of complexity. Trying to simplify things too quickly narrow the opportunities. We need to explore complexity.
- Demand in existing markets has slowed. Finding new market opportunities is difficult and imprecise. We must now create markets.
- Resources are scarce so new projects are often put on the back burner. Growth will have to come from the resources we do have. We need to be resourceful.
- Risk is inherent in everything we do. If we aren’t taking risks then we aren’t learning and moving forward. We must take calculated risks.
- Experimenting is part of the creative process. It is important to test our ideas before we commit to a direction. We must experiment smartly.
- Failing is a sign of courage. We must accept the fact that we will fail. Failure now seems to be a prerequisite for success. We must fail fast.
- Standard methods of analysis are not as effective. We can no longer calculate an expected return for everything we do. Instead we must decide on how much we are willing to lose. We must determine an affordable loss.
The ‘Free Thinkers‘ of today are entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Intrapreneurs and corporate entrepreneurs who are showing us that anything is possible in business.
These individuals are creating a future in a way that is very different from what we have come to know. They are showing all of us how to deal effectively in a world that is being turned inside-out.