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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds How rapidly things change. It’s probably cliche to say that things are changing rapidly. I’m sure that 100 ago, 500 years ago, and 3,000 years ago, people saying the same thing. It’s all about context. And we can clearly see that the speed of change these days is faster than ever before. For some people, it might be overwhelming. For others, it’s something they welcome and embrace. We could argue that things are not changing, they’re stagnating. And stagnation could be the second last stage before ultimate death. So change is a good thing. It heightens us, makes us nervous, we sometimes fear that change.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds But at the same time, we should crave that change, unless, indeed, things are changing very rapidly, whether that be the field of technology, perhaps a more obvious and visible one, but also world of economics, and the social world, and the word of demographics, we fight constant change. Let’s look at one or two examples. 15 years ago, the word Amazon probably meant to most people a big river in South America. Now it has a totally different meaning. The world twitter, with a word we use to describe the sound of a happy bird, YouTube, nonexistent. That’s simply the world of social media.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds Think about South Africa, how things have changed since the late ’80s moving into the 1990s, ever since then, total democratic political transformation, along with that social and economic transformation. We think about the few weeks before the crumbling of the Berlin wall, which no one anticipated. The Berlin wall crumbled back into the late ’80s, early ’90s that heralded the end of an era as it were of Soviet Communism that changed the world entirely. So change is, to use a cliche, a constant. And yet it’s something that we need to think about. Infact, futures research is largely based on understanding how patterns might change. Very often, first prize in futures research is finding what we call trend breaks.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds In other words a major break, From a seemingly long term established trend. So I think we can all agree things change rapidly, and that if anything, enhances the need to try to get a better understanding of the future. But what I’d like you to do is spend some time doing a bit of research. I want you to think about three particular issues. The first one is how things have changed regarding China, its economy, and its role in the world. Initially, the big story has been for a number of years, China has become the major power, economic power. And it still is.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds But since round about late 2014 moving to 2015, once again, things are changing in China, such as a decline in economic growth. Now, I want you, as I say, to spend some time exploring these big changes in China, and very importantly just reflect very briefly some indications of that change, both with China, for the world, and certainly for Africa. Something else that is constantly changing, has a very real impact on our lives, daily lives, commercial lives. This is, of course, the oil price. Oil remains the most important source of energy, for most businesses, and most individuals. It’s one of the most important variable in our lives.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 seconds So it stands to reason that the change in oil price has a very profound effect on all of us. And we go back in history. We find that throughout the ’60s, for instance oil price rose. And ’70s. In the ’80s and ’90s, oil price fell rather dramatically. Back in the 2000s, oil price started rising again. And then almost out of no where, late 2014, the oil price halved.

Skip to 4 minutes and 13 seconds I want you to do a little bit of research there, try to establish some of the reasons these dramatic but sometimes unexpected changes, and also reflect upon the implication of that for society But third one I’d like you to think about and do a little research on is the phenomenon known as aging. Some people often call about the graying of the world’s population. In short, people are getting older, especially in the developed world. And this is already happening and will have profound effects of not only the population, but also the world of economics, of politics, of the social fabric. That’s what the most nerve-racking realities, especially in Western Europe, especially in Japan, sometimes in America, soon in China.

Skip to 5 minutes and 6 seconds So I want you to try to establish why aging is happening. What’s giving rise? What lies at the heart of the fact that more and more people are living longer and longer, and then again, what are some of the implications

How rapidly things change

The speed of change is happening faster than ever before. In future studies, this is an important element to understand and embrace. Take a look at the next video to learn more about this.

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development