Not inevitable

elon+ted+conferenceI am not the first to write about it. and then a few others have already raved about Elon Musk’s TED talk. However, you know me. I am still going to go ahead and talk about it especially since he makes a very valid point (as he always does).

For a few weeks now, there’s been much talk about the inevitable. People have probably misunderstood Kevin Kelly’s statement when he said ‘much of what will happen in the next twenty years is inevitable and the future will bring with it things that forever change the ways in which we work, learn and communicate.’ The assumption is that technology will inevitably progress and organizations (and people) will have little choice but to adapt. That left as is, things will move forward.

The actual path of a raindrop may be unpredictable and the general direction inevitable, but not everything is a raindrop. Some things aren’t inevitable. Here I am going to quote Elon Musk word for word for he does say it best –

“Then there’s becoming a multiplanet species and space-faring civilization. This is not inevitable. It’s very important to appreciate this is not inevitable. The sustainable energy future I think is largely inevitable, but being a space-faring civilization is definitely not inevitable. If you look at the progress in space, in 1969 you were able to send somebody to the moon. 1969. Then we had the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle could only take people to low Earth orbit. Then the Space Shuttle retired, and the United States could take no one to orbit. So that’s the trend. The trend is like down to nothing. 

People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually. You look at great civilizations like Ancient Egypt, and they were able to make the pyramids, and they forgot how to do that. And then the Romans, they built these incredible aqueducts. They forgot how to do it.”

The same stand true for HR. It is not automatically going to get better unless we try really hard to do something different. To experiment. To take a chance. Take technology & HR for example. We’ve been talking about it for almost a decade now. We are close to getting tired of talking about it and yet, the progress is negligible. If it were anywhere close to inevitable, we won’t be here tormented by about how our systems won’t talk to teach other. One could say that 10 years down the line it is inevitable but do we really have that kind of time? If an organization today needed to be technologically ahead in the space of HR, it is going to have to try hard. Same hold true for diversity and most issues that we’ve been struggling with.

We need to move and it won’t happen by default. Organizations will evolve and organizations will fade. Progress is not inevitable. Decline is.

So how much longer are you going to wait?

P.S: If you haven’t heard the talk yet, get your head from under the sand and go watch.


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