Sunday 8 July 2012


It is not uncommon for us to be told what to do, especially in a society with high power-distance. Uniformity is the order of the day and those how see things differently are accused to have self-interest and wish to destroy our "united" society. Ironically, if we reflect how we have moved forward from where we were in the past and where we are now, meaningful change happened when somebody saw things differently and managed to convinced other to be with him.

I do not intend to discuss about history but wish to have a greater look at this phenomena called de-synchronisation. This concept was popularised by Alvin Toffler in his book Revolutionary Wealth. The theory of desynchronisation suggests that different segments of society move at varying rates of change and that organisations must appreciate this fact. If we imagine, for instance, that technology is moving at 100 mph, but business only at 80 mph, government at 40 mph and education at 20 mph, we can see how this causes organisational performance to suffer. In this picture, education lags behind business and therefore produces the kind of employees businesses needed 15 or 20 years prior, not the employees they need now and, more importantly, in the future.

Clearly, a society will never be homogenous in their views about anything, notwithstanding what those in certain positions want us to believe. This is an important point so that we are more realistic in understanding the issues we face and how to conceptualised and  implement solutions. Once we are able to agree that there is no such thing as "unity" then we are more able to accept diversity in many aspects of the society and approach issues from a more realistic angles.

Another concept which could be helpful in looking at how we could make a difference to our society is Pareto principle or the "80/20 rule". The 80/20 rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. In Pareto's case it meant 20 percent of the people owned 80 of the wealth. If we apply this rule, what matter more is when the right group of people who matter are convinced and willing to change.

Once we accept that not everybody will see things in similar ways as how we see things and we need not convince everybody to make a significant difference, we have better hope to solve our challenges. Of course, to having understood this per se would not necessarily mean change will happen automatically.

Let's apply these concepts in our lives and see whether we could have better chance to influence change.