Check your assumptions at the innovation door

Over the centuries, an adage has developed that there are two things in life that are permanent: death and taxes.

Many years ago, Sophocles (400 B.C.) suggested a third: change.

Today, almost everyone agrees with him. In the book “Future Shock,” Alvin Toffler points out that we are living in an age not just of change, but of rapid change. The acceleration is now so great, that many people are unable to cope with it and, as the title suggests, are in shock. Humans prefer to function in a more stable world. Instability and uncertainty do not resonate well as we try to control and predict our everyday lives.

No matter how hard we try or how much we think we have it all figured out, we don’t. It then becomes a matter of those who are willing to embrace, adapt, and innovate or get left behind. 

Produced in 1972, the documentary based on the book “Future Shock” demonstrates how change is only accelerating. 

Science suggests that mankind has been on Earth for about 50,000 years; this represents about 800 lifetimes. People did not emerge from the cave for the first 650 lifetimes. Toffler suggests that, by the time a person reaches 50  years old, they will have learned 97% percent of everything they know in the world. 

The electric motor has only been around for the last two lifetimes, showing that the curve of knowledge developed by humans over time has accelerated rapidly. The amount of change a person might have experienced in a lifetime in the 1800s is experienced in approximately five years by a person in the late 1900s. Toffler illustrates this by estimating the shrinking length of time it has taken to turn various technological concepts into practical execution.

A Toffler curve that shows an orange line starting at the bottom left corner of Rate of Change and going horizontally then curing up with Time labeled on the bottom.For example, it took 140 years for the photograph to be invented and implemented for use. The radio took 40 years from conception to execution, the television 12 years, and the transistor radio only 2 years. This evolution of concept to conception demonstrates our rapidly changing world where innovation is essential in order to thrive and survive. 

Even more recently, take a moment to reflect on how AI technology has seemingly come out of nowhere. ChatGPT gained user growth, 100 million, and traffic growth, 1 billion visitors per month, in record-breaking time; from December 2022 to February 2023.

Everyone is in shock at how quickly ChatGPT was launched and now, like it or not, this controversial technology is a tool that can provide opportunities for individuals and businesses, regardless of size. The bottom line for businesses will be who adapts the quickest and capitalizes most on this technological innovation.

What does all this mean? 

There are two approaches a person or organization can take toward change. 

One is defensive. 

Fearing change, reacting toward it reluctantly, and wishing it would disappear. In short, you are controlled by change. 

The second is to treat change as something that is a fact of life. 

Begin by asking yourself, how might I adapt to change and turn it into an opportunity? A good visual representation of the acceptance or reflection of change can be made to that of a knife. One can grasp the blade or the handle, one side can be more dangerous than the other; change can be viewed as a threat or an opportunity.

If society or businesses didn’t accept change and innovation, we might still be rolling around in a horse and buggy or bending the antenna on our roof to sort of get a signal for our televisions.

What time has proven to us is that change is a certainty, it is as reliable as death and paying taxes. In order to succeed, there is only one choice, embrace change and begin to see the opportunities that it presents. Innovation offers a solution to continuously adapt and thrive in our inevitably changing world.

To learn more about innovation and how to capitalize on the possibilities that change has to offer, visit