Sunday, November 14, 2004

Too old or too young?

It sometimes feels that the world is biased against people who either are too young, or too old. Particularly if you are very young you see all the older people getting all the key positions and if you are older, you see all the young people getting all the opportunities. In fact, we may have a bifurcated system , where the average person at either end of the spectrum is thought of as either immature, or in case of older people, rigid and out of date. However, we do not have to look far to see Donald Rumsfeld, Alan Greenspan, Rupert Murdoch and others you are well beyond the "normal" retiring age and performing with vigor and effectiveness, whether or not you agree with what they do. So perhaps the key is to be a lifelong learner who advances rapidly when young and continues to learn when older. The key to this is to accept that there is always something to learn and to challenge oneself all the time. We do nothing as well as we could!

Assume that and spend time on how to improve all which we do.

A changing world - in unexpected ways!

The past is a poor predictor of the future. In 1972, the Club of Rome published a book, "The Limits to Growth." The book predicted that if the world continued as it was, resources would run out within a century. The book sold 12 million copies in 37 languages. During the 1950 and '60s, the world could not feed itself. However, now we worry about global warming, and since the Green Revolution (started by the Rockefeller foundation in 1944), the world can produce more food than it needs. Countires in which many people starved to death became food exporters. The West now worries about an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, while in less developed countiries wars are the only barrier to distribution of food. It is fair to say that most long-term predictions by experts are wrong. No-one fifty years ago foresaw genetic engineering, or laseer surgery, nor did anyone seventy-five years ago predict antibiotics.

Yet companies fail because they rely on predictions by experts. Railroads did, airlines are doing so now. Electronics companies and car companies persist in extrapolating the past. It will be interesting to see if we ever get away from this.