Abductive Columns

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Print and Broadcast Revolution: Facing the Digital Challenge (2)

Clearly, managing the transition into the Digital Era will not be easy or problem free. We must expect challenges in most of our institutions, so we need to rethink them and build them well for what lies ahead.

A few years ago, I spent several hours with an oil company executive charged with designing and constructing the firm’s oil tankers. This helped me construct my own mental picture of how to build for an environment of turbulent change.

Building an oil tanker is an amazing feat. The number of details is mind-boggling, and the obstacles are incredible, especially if it is being designed to face the North Atlantic, the most treacherous environment of all.
Remember the Titanic!

North Atlantic tankers must be able to withstand a head-on collision with an iceberg at seven knots. Without dropping anchor, they must maintain a stable position while buffeted by 50-foot waves. To cope with such a turbulent, hostile environment, the North Atlantic tankers have multiple redundant systems acting as safeguards and backups. They have powerful stabilizers on their sides to keep them in position even while enormous waves crash over them.

The North Atlantic tankers give us a phenomenal metaphor for today’s institutions to consider as they rebuild themselves for the challenges of the Digital Era. Today’s institutions must navigate stormy seas of social and technological change. Unfortunately, we are still building the social equivalent of vacation cruise liners: large, slow structures made for calm, balmy seas and friendly ports of call. These “cruise-liner” institutions may be a little more user-friendly, but they are built for calm seas and a sunny horizon. And that is not what we are likely to get.

Today, we need institutions built like North Atlantic tankers to meet the colossal waves of largely unpredictable social change. They need to be highly agile and fast-changing, with extra capacity, awareness of the environment, powerful stabilizers, and buffering, like the double hulls of the tankers.

Redesigning our institutions for stresses and opportunities of the Digital Era is now the greatest challenge.
from the article The Digital Dynamic: How Communication Media is Shaping our Culture by Rex Miller


At 8:20 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I can't resist the temptation to point out that the Titanic was built by confident professionals.

Noah's Ark was constructed by volunteers!

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to post this in the comments section but I like your blog and think you may have a good chance of getting listed at our blog directory, "High Class Blogs."

Contact me at dennis@highclassblogs.com if you are interested.

Dennis Francesco

By the way, not sure Noah's Ark could have withstood a collision with an iceberg either.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Sure it could.

God was at the till.


Post a Comment

<< Home