Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Information Age and Strategic Decision Making

Excerpts From: Strategic Leadership and Decision Making

The focus must not be on the World Wide Web, but instead on how the Web influences values, beliefs, social and economic structures, politics, our view of the world and the way we think and behave.

Futurist John L. Peterson forewarns that, "We are living in a period of time that will produce more change for humanity than any previous era in history."

  • Have a broad understanding of what this new environment is all about.
  • Understand the major forces that are driving this monumental change.
  • Understand how they can think and see the world differently than they have before.

It is important to understand the impact of not only just information and technology on industry or the economy, but about change in all aspects of human life. This "New World" will have its own distinctive outlook, its own way of dealing with time, space, logic, and causality.




TIME SPAN (years)





Tens of Thousands

First WaveAgriculture AgeFarmingThousands
Second WaveIndustrial AgeMass productionHundreds
Third WaveInformation AgeSpecification/infoDecades

If we look at John Petersen's discussions of the future, they begin much like the Toffler's. He also describes humankind as hunter-gatherers for the first 35,000 years, but opens his first period with the agriculture era about 5,000 years ago. Petersen identified this era with the beginning of formal written communications and the first movement of people into towns and cities. Only 500 years have passed since the beginning of the third era, "the industrial revolution," an era much like the second wave of Toffler's wave theory but marked primarily by the invention of the printing press. Peterson, like many others, calls the current era the "information age". He marks the beginning of this era with the arrival of the microcomputer about 25 years ago.


25,000First notationalHunter-gatherer
5,000Writing systemAgriculture
540Printing pressIndustrial

The 15th and 16th centuries characterized a renaissance, an age of enlightenment. The changes the world had a profound effect. According to John Peterson, the information age will characterize the "super renaissance." Much like the renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries, the "super renaissance" will have long-term implications:

15th and 16th Centuries
Newtonian Physics
Printing Press

1980 - 2020
Quantum Mechanics
Super Renaissance
Ecological Threats

One of the most interesting aspects of the Peterson's model concerns the length of each succeeding era. A review Peterson's time pattern implies that the information age might only be 40-50 years long. We may already be half way through the shortest and most explosive era of human history.

Change Management

However, one of the most important findings of the research was that the "greatest" breakdown of organization performance was not the cognitive or technical dimension but rather the social and human (the affective dimension).

Iterative Prototyping Process

The ability to "what if " learn from mistakes, and repeat the task by computer analysis over and over, has changed the way we learn.

Network Centric Revolution

However, those who truly understand the potential of computers for thinking and communications are doing business differently. These visionaries are proving that improvements in our ability to work with information can lead to significant leaps in intellectual abilities and organizational productivity.

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