Organizations are like fish with people as their cells. They evolved to thrive in the ocean, the high-viscosity world of the industrial age. These fish must now change into fowl to thrive in the zero-viscosity world of the information age in which space and time have collapsed to almost nothing. Most of them won’t make it, for evolution doesn’t work that way.
Two centuries after its birth in the industrial revolution, the industrial age has reached a zenith and is beginning to show sings of decline. A new age, the age of information, is emerging, born of the phenomenal achievements that the industrial revolution initially brought to manufacturing and transportation, and ultimately to communication and computing. Notice, that in this view today’s computer and telecommunication industries are industrial-age enterprises, not information age enterprises. They only laid the foundation for the emergence of a true information-age economy at the culmination of the process, which is all about electronic saga.
The information explosion is now producing a low-viscosity global economy in which information is becoming as crucial to our prosperity as the tangible things of the industrial age. The televised images of the industrial-age bombs gliding unerringly through windows and air shafts during the current war in Iraq and in Afghanistan is only one of many compelling demonstration that industrial-age technologies are no longer sufficient and that the information age is with us to stay for a long long time.
Although world is still wary and apprehensive of the information age, but most would agree that something new, important is happening, there is still no agreement as to what the information age actually means. Albeit, the visionary men and women who have now been exploring the digital world or virtual world for almost a generation are persuaded of the value of this brave new world of electrons.
Regardless of the widely held belief that change is progressing faster today than in earlier period of human industry, this meaning-making activity is human-centric and not techno-centric affair. It occurs in the minds and deeds of millions of flesh and blood individuals across the planet. World is changing, and so are the people and so are the lifestyles, but how long?