The Building Blocks Of Our Future

In a post from 2019, I described the building blocks that established our modern society. It was convergence across multiple domains that shaped our current world. From the post:

A century ago, a convergence across domains ushered in unprecedented advancements in human development. As Robert J. Gordon describes, the special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what Mr. Gordon calls the great inventions. The great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being. In his view, the economic revolution of 1870-1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because many of its achievements could only happen once. What makes this century so special, is that these inventions altered what until then, was a life lived in misery. 

Frank Diana – Convergence

I captured many of those building blocks in a visual that I use to tell this story (click on the visual to open in a separate window).

The building blocks are very clear in hindsight, but it would have been impossible to predict back then. We could say the same about our current day. We know that building blocks are emerging in ways that will converge to shape the future – but prediction is impossible. That said, we can however rehearse the future by identifying existing and emerging building blocks and studying how they may converge to shape possible futures. The visual represents a way to think about this. For example, if we are trying to describe the future of health and wellness, what building blocks would we identify across the various domains? How might they converge to drive a view of possible futures? What are the catalysts that drive this convergence? As depicted in the visual, we know that COVID-19 is serving as a catalyst on a number of levels. I’m sure many are also hearing about stakeholder capitalism and a renewed focus on purpose. The wheel in the center identifies many of the drivers of this growing focus. Purpose-led efforts will ultimately accelerate convergence and the rise of ecosystems, as no single organization can address purpose alone.

There is another piece to this story. In the quote from my convergence post above, I mentioned that Robert J. Gordon believes the economic revolution of 1870-1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because many of its achievements could only happen once. This special century was driven by inventions and actions that altered what until then, was a life lived in misery. Well, people around the world still live in misery. The circle in the middle of the visual to the left reflects that period of great invention. The outer circle represents this emerging period, a period that if managed constructively, should indeed elevate global well-being. When analyzing each stop around the wheel, we find an overwhelming number of building blocks that collectively advance human development.

As individuals and organizations increasingly focus on purpose, building blocks become clearer. The ecosystems required to realize purpose-oriented goals are illuminated. At the end of the day, there is work left to do, convergence and a focus on purpose will help us do it.

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