Change is the only constant

Wicked problems have always been around. However, they are increasingly common and important in a globalizing world in which the fact that our lives are increasingly interconnected structures human relations and, as the cliché has it, “change is the only constant.”

That line was supposed first uttered by Herodotus about 2,500 years ago. Who knows if that’s true or, if he did say, if it was an accurate depiction of life in ancient Greece.

There can be little doubt that it makes sense today, however. In almost all areas of life, the pace of change is accelerating. Whether we like it or not. Most analysts who study our changing world focus on technology. The oldest members of the wicked problems team were born in an age without computers, cell phones, satellite television, or the 24/7 news cycle. Even its younger members feel overwhelmed by the new technologies that have been introduced in the last few years including smart phones, streaming video, and social media.

But as the chart below suggests, it isn’t just technology. Our values have changed almost as fast on such issues as race, gender, and most other identity related issues.

Not all of that change has been for the better, including the rise of terrorism and the aspect of it that gets the most attention today, violent extremism.

As we are about to see, the problem is that we try to deal with our changing world with mental models and political institutions that were created during very different–and far more stable–times.

Accelerating Rates of CHange
Accelerating Rates of CHange

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