Workplace Communication: Communicating as the Pace of Change Quickens

By Frank Kenna

Author Peter Russell discusses the ever-accelerating rate of change in his provocative book, Waking Up in Time

He makes the analogy to a 108 story skyscraper which represents a vertical timeline of the earth’s existence, with its formation 4.6 billion years ago being the 1st floor of the building, and today being the roof.  The first living cells appeared 3.5 billion years ago (the 25th floor), then bacteria appeared at the 35th floor, multi-cell organisms on floor 80 and fish on the 97th. Dinosaurs reigned on floors 104 to 107, and mammals arrived on the top floor. Homo erectus walked on two legs 3 inches from the roof, the Pharaohs in Egypt were 1/50th of an inch from the top, and the Renaissance occurred in the top one-thousandth of an inch. Modern history is the thickness of a few microns. 

Then slice those few microns even finer to represent the last 100 years with the advent of cars, planes, TV, radio, electricity and vaccines.  And then slice it even finer to look at the last 15 years with the introduction of the Internet, cell phones, smart phones and tablet computers.  The pace of change keeps accelerating.

For example, some of the inventions that should be here soon are flexible displays that can fit in your pocket or wrap around a column, computer eye glasses that will display any information you want, cars that can drive themselves, 3D computer chips that will make today’s chips look slow by comparison, and eventually quantum computers that are thousands of times faster than any that currently exist. 

What does that mean for managers trying to communicate with their employees?  Two things.  First, it’s important to focus primarily on the message, not the technology.  While new tech tools can be fun to implement and use, they are worthless without the proper messaging and content.

And that leads to the second point, which is that managers must keep up with technology, especially how their employees are using it to communicate with each other.  Finding ways to use the same tools that they’re using makes messaging that much easier, making your job easier.

Frank Kenna III
January 8, 2013

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