Monday, January 9, 2012

Staying sane in the world today

Fish House play against a moving back wall at The Workshop in Mystic, CT
After reading this in Fast Company I think I may be a Genfluxer.   I usually dislike labels but I"m happy to adopt this one.  Genfluxers are comfortable with ambiguity, recognize that the future is inherently unstable, and wallow in chaos like pigs in muck.  That describes me pretty well and according to the article I am in good company.  Pete Cashmore, who runs Mashable is in there- he is a hero of mine.  Beth Comstock and Susan Peters  are shaking it up at GE. Baratunde Thurston is digital editor at The Onion and is a quintessential GenFluxer according to the article.   Social media and the Internet have created a fast-changing world that challenges many traditional notions of how work gets done. Knowledge Management (KM) was a discipline of sorts that grew up in the same time frame of Fast Company magazine and as I read the article I reflected on what it means to know what you need to know in the current environment.   Never before has it been so easy to gather information.  Just typing in a term into a search engine will get you a plethora of hits and comprehensive overview of your topic.  Some have suggested that the ease of information gathering has a down side in that you get what you ask for. And little else.  Serendipity is more elusive when you look for something directly, versus scanning through a magazine shelf and happening upon an interesting snippet that sheds new light on a particular problem.  A recent article in Intelligent Life magazine on the loss of serendipity in the digital sums it up nicely. Knowing what we know and don't know has perhaps never been easier, but the challenge now lies in asking the right questions and in not being too comfortable with your answers.  What seems right one day, may indeed be quite wrong on another depending on context.  Being open-minded and ready to shift perception based on emerging information is critical in today's environment.  For better or worse, we can no longer sit back and feel accomplished in our understanding.  I, for one, am comfortable with that although sometimes it feels easy to get left behind. Really, though, it may not be being left behind that is important thing to worry about. Rather, being too caught up with every changing view and losing sight of the big picture may be the greater danger.  That seems to me to be a recipe for burnout.  For individuals and companies wishing to keep their footing in the rapidly swirling environment, it seems that cultivating an open mind, getting comfortable with ambiguity, and being somewhat brave, may be the best approach to staying sane and, with luck (yes luck), finding success.