A while ago, someone recommended Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late as a “wide-ranging study of the changing world and the opportunities to respond to potential threats by harnessing community, collaboration, and technology.” I liked his book, The World is Flat, so I put it in my Amazon shopping cart – a virtual bookshelf just waiting for the right moment to pluck it from “saved for later” into my hot little hands.
Enter the coronavirus, and I’m thinking this might be an interesting book to read to put this new event in perspective while providing context and flavor for how we got to this point. Keep in mind, it was written in 2016, so there is no direct discussion of the COVID, SARS, or other pathogens.
The premise of the book is that the modern world is experiencing a host of “accelerations” (computing power, economic globalization, and climate change are the primary drivers, but there are others). These things are changing at an ever-faster pace, and those things are now interacting with each other to cause further acceleration.
The first part of the book details the acceleration in technology, globalization, and climate change that has not only caused disruption (when a new method makes an old method obsolete) but also dislocation (when things change so quickly society is unable to adapt). He dissects many of the changes and trends that have occurred in the last decade or two as it has shaped our workplace, politics, ethics, geopolitics, community, and environment.
I found it interesting to read as you can feel the pace of change accelerating (exploding into a supernova of knowledge that is feeding off itself!) and can extrapolate future possibilities and opportunities!
The back half of the book isn’t as cogent as the first half. BUT I did find it interesting that he says on page 342:
“We have never before stood at this moral fork in the road – where one of us could kill all of us and all of us could fix everything if we really decided to do so.”
How true in this coronavirus age.
He opines that we need trust and collaboration to help meet these challenges. He then details how the needed collaborative behaviors are non-existent, having started to break down during Reagan’s presidency up to the “Trump revolution” (circa 2016). Wonder what Friedman would say to our current political climate where everything is politicized?
At the end, he shares an unbridled optimistic view of the world, based on his hometown reminiscing of St. Louis Park, Minnesota where evidently they did trust and collaborate. In the age of COVID, I see outposts of this collaboration, and perhaps this will be a turning point for us all.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.