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Discontinuity

The Age of Discontinuity (guidelines to our changing society) by Peter Drucker

PREFACE TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION (1978)

WHEN this book was first published (1968), almost a decade ago, such major shocks as the petroleum cartel of 1973 or Watergate were still well in the future, still unpredictable, indeed inconceivable. The environmental crusade had barely begun. But even if I had been able to foresee these momentous events, I would not have paid much attention to them in this book—just as I paid scant attention to the headlines of the late sixties, such as the Vietnam War or the student unrest. For this book tries to do something that is altogether different and perhaps more ambitious than forecasting. It does not try to predict "developments," no matter how important. It attempts, instead, to identify and to define changes that are occurring or have already occurred in the foundations. Its themes are the continental drifts that form new continents, rather than the wars that form new national boundaries.

"Discontinuity" is what I called these major changes in the underlying social and cultural reality. This was a rather novel term at the time—although [perhaps as a result of this book and its success] it has become a good deal more familiar since. "Revolution" was, and still is, a term in wide use; indeed it may be greatly overused.

But what is a discontinuity? The term, as the geologist uses it, denotes much more and much less than does revolution.

Revolution is the earthquake or the volcanic eruption that obliterates the familiar landscape and creates a new one. But these revolutions are largely the effects of shifts in the foundations that precede them and make the revolutions inevitable.

These revolutions result from discontinuities: from the buildup of tension between a new underlying reality and the surface of established institution and customary behavior that still conform to yesterday's underlying realities. And while revolutions tend to be violent and spectacular, discontinuities tend to develop gradually and quietly and are rarely perceived until they have resulted in the volcanic eruption or the earthquake.

Age of Discontinuity

 

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker


The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context

 

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These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point

 

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