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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • Over the past six months, I've spent my time

  • traveling. I think I've done 60,000 miles,

  • but without leaving my desk.

  • And the reason I can do that is because I'm actually two people.

  • I look like one person but I'm two people. I'm Eddie who is here,

  • and at the same time, my alter ego is a big green boxy

  • avatar nicknamed Cyber Frank.

  • So that's what I spend my time doing. I'd like to start,

  • if it's possible, with a test, because I do business stuff,

  • so it's important that we focus on outcomes.

  • And then I struggled, because I was thinking to myself,

  • "What should I talk? What should I do? It's a TED audience.

  • It's got to be stretching. How am I going to make — ?"

  • So I just hope I've got the level of difficulty right.

  • So let's just walk our way through this.

  • Please could you work this through with me? You can shout out the answer if you like.

  • The question is, which of these horizontal lines is longer?

  • The answer is?

  • Audience: The same.Eddie Obeng: The same.

  • No, they're not the same. (Laughter)

  • They're not the same. The top one is 10 percent longer than the bottom one.

  • So why did you tell me they were the same? Do you remember when we were kids at school,

  • about that big, they played the same trick on us?

  • It was to teach us parallax. Do you remember?

  • And you got, you said, "It's the same!" And you got it wrong.

  • You remember? And you learned the answer, and you've carried this answer in your head for 10, 20, 30, 40 years:

  • The answer is the same. The answer is the same. So when you're asked what the lengths are,

  • you say they're the same, but they're not the same, because I've changed it.

  • And this is what I'm trying to explain has happened to us in the 21st century.

  • Somebody or something has changed the rules

  • about how our world works.

  • When I'm joking, I try and explain it happened at midnight,

  • you see, while we were asleep, but it was midnight 15 years ago. Okay?

  • You didn't notice it? But basically, what they do is,

  • they switched all the rules round, so that the way to

  • successfully run a business, an organization, or even a country,

  • has been deleted, flipped, and it's a completely new

  • you think I'm joking, don't youthere's a completely new set of rules in operation. (Laughter)

  • Did you notice that? I mean, you missed this one.

  • You probablyNo, you didn't. Okay. (Laughter)

  • My simple idea is that what's happened is,

  • the real 21st century around us isn't so obvious to us,

  • so instead we spend our time responding rationally

  • to a world which we understand and recognize,

  • but which no longer exists.

  • You don't believe me, do you? Okay. (Applause)

  • So let me take you on a little journey of many of the things I don't understand.

  • If you search Amazon for the word "creativity,"

  • you'll discover something like 90,000 books.

  • If you go on Google and you look for "innovation + creativity,"

  • you get 30 million hits. If you add the word "consultants," it doubles to 60 million. (Laughter)

  • Are you with me? And yet, statistically, what you discover

  • is that about one in 100,000 ideas is found making money

  • or delivering benefits two years after its inception.

  • It makes no sense. Companies make their expensive executives

  • spend ages carefully preparing forecasts and budgets

  • which are obsolete or need changing before they can be published.

  • How is that possible? If you look at the visions we have,

  • the visions of how we're going to change the world,

  • the key thing is implementation. We have the vision.

  • We've got to make it happen.

  • We've spent decades professionalizing implementation.

  • People are supposed to be good at making stuff happen.

  • However, if I use as an example a family of five

  • going on holiday, if you can imagine this,

  • all the way from London all the way across to Hong Kong,

  • what I want you to think about is their budget is only 3,000 pounds of expenses.

  • What actually happens is, if I compare this to the average

  • real project, average real successful project,

  • the family actually end up in Makassar, South Sulawesi,

  • at a cost of 4,000 pounds,

  • whilst leaving two of the children behind. (Laughter)

  • What I'm trying to explain to you is, there are things which don't make sense to us.

  • It gets even worse than that. Let me just walk you through this one.

  • This is a quote, and I'll just pick words out of it.

  • It says -- I'll put on the voice -- "In summary, your Majesty,

  • the failure to foresee the timing, extent and severity

  • of the crisis was due to the lack of creativity

  • and the number of bright minds," or something like that.

  • This was a group of eminent economists apologizing to the Queen of England

  • when she asked the question,

  • "Why did no one tell us that the crisis was coming?" (Laughter)

  • I'll never get my knighthood. I'll never get my knighthood. (Laughter)

  • That's not the important point. The thing you have to remember is,

  • these are eminent economists, some of the smartest people

  • on the planet. Do you see the challenge? (Laughter)

  • It's scary. My friend and mentor, Tim Brown of IDEO,

  • he explains that design must get big, and he's right.

  • He wisely explains this to us. He says design thinking

  • must tackle big systems for the challenges we have.

  • He's absolutely right.

  • And then I ask myself, "Why was it ever small?"

  • Isn't it weird? You know, if collaboration is so cool,

  • is cross-functional working is so amazing,

  • why did we build these huge hierarchies? What's going on?

  • You see, I think what's happened, perhaps, is that

  • we've not noticed that change I described earlier.

  • What we do know is that the world has accelerated.

  • Cyberspace moves everything at the speed of light.

  • Technology accelerates things exponentially.

  • So if this is now, and that's the past,

  • and we start thinking about change, you know,

  • all governments are seeking change, you're here seeking change,

  • everybody's after change, it's really cool. (Laughter)

  • So what happens is, we get this wonderful whooshing acceleration and change.

  • The speed is accelerating. That's not the only thing.

  • At the same time, as we've done that, we've done something really weird.

  • We've doubled the population in 40 years,

  • put half of them in cities, then connected them all up so they can interact.

  • The density of the interaction of human beings is amazing.

  • There are charts which show all these movements of information. That density of information is amazing.

  • And then we've done a third thing.

  • you know, for those of you who have as an office

  • a little desk underneath the stairs, and you say, well this is my little desk under the stairs,

  • no! You are sitting at the headquarters of a global corporation if you're connected to the Internet.

  • What's happened is, we've changed the scale.

  • Size and scale are no longer the same.

  • And then add to that, every time you tweet,

  • over a third of your followers follow from a country

  • which is not your own.

  • Global is the new scale. We know that.

  • And so people say things like, "The world is now a turbulent place." Have you heard them saying things like that?

  • And they use it as a metaphor. Have you come across this?

  • And they think it's a metaphor, but this is not a metaphor.

  • It's reality. As a young engineering student, I remember

  • going to a demonstration where they basically,

  • the demonstrator did something quite intriguing.

  • What he did was, he got a transparent pipehave you seen this demonstration before? —

  • he attached it to a tap. So effectively what you had was,

  • you had a situation where — I'll try and draw the tap

  • and the pipe, actually I'll skip the tap. The taps are hard.

  • Okay? So I'll write the word "tap." Is that okay? It's a tap. (Laughter)

  • Okay, so he attaches it to a transparent pipe, and he turns the water on.

  • And he says, do you notice anything? And the water is whooshing down this pipe.

  • I mean, this is not exciting stuff. Are you with me?

  • So the water goes up. He turns it back down. Great.

  • And he says, "Anything you notice?" No. Then he sticks a needle into the pipe,

  • and he connects this to a container, and he fills

  • the container up with green ink. You with me?

  • So guess what happens? A thin green line comes out

  • as it flows down the pipe. It's not that interesting.

  • And then he turns the water up a bit, so it starts coming back in. And nothing changes.

  • So he's changing the flow of the water, but it's just a boring green line.

  • He adds some more. He adds some more. And then something weird happens.

  • There's this little flicker, and then as he turns it ever so slightly more,

  • the whole of that green line disappears, and instead

  • there are these little sort of inky dust devils close to the needle.

  • They're called eddies. Not me. And they're violently dispersing the ink

  • so that it actually gets diluted out, and the color's gone.

  • What's happened in this world of pipe

  • is somebody has flipped it. They've changed the rules from laminar to turbulent.

  • All the rules are gone. In that environment, instantly,

  • all the possibilities which turbulence brings are available,

  • and it's not the same as laminar.

  • And if we didn't have that green ink, you'd never notice.

  • And I think this is our challenge, because somebody

  • has actually increasedand it's probably you guys with all your tech and stuff

  • the speed, the scale and the density of interaction.

  • Now how do we cope and deal with that?

  • Well, we could just call it turbulence, or we could try and learn.

  • Yes, learn, but I know you guys grew up in the days when

  • there were actually these things called correct answers,

  • because of the answer you gave me to the horizontal line puzzle,

  • and you believe it will last forever.

  • So I'll put a little line up here which represents learning,

  • and that's how we used to do it. We could see things,

  • understand them, take the time to put them into practice.

  • Out here is the world. Now, what's happened to our pace

  • of learning as the world has accelerated? Well, if you work

  • for a corporation, you'll discover it's quite difficult to work

  • on stuff which your boss doesn't approve of, isn't in the strategy,

  • and anyway, you've got to go through your monthly meetings.

  • If you work in an institution, one day you will get them to make that decision.

  • And if you work in a market where people believe in cycles,

  • it's even funnier, because you have to wait all the way

  • for the cycle to fail before you go, "There's something wrong." You with me?

  • So it's likely that the line, in terms of learning, is pretty flat.

  • You with me? This point over here, the point at which

  • the lines cross over, the pace of change

  • overtakes the pace of learning,

  • and for me, that is what I was describing

  • when I was telling you about midnight.

  • So what does it do to us? Well, it completely transforms what we have to do,

  • many mistakes we make. We solve last year's problems

  • without thinking about the future. If you try and think about it,

  • the things you're solving now, what problems are they going to bring in the future?

  • If you haven't understood the world you're living in,

  • it's almost impossible to be absolutely certain that what you're going to deliver fits.

  • I'll give you an example, a quick one. Creativity and ideas,

  • I mentioned that earlier. All the CEOs around me, my clients, they want innovation,

  • so they seek innovation. They say to people, "Take risks and be creative!"

  • But unfortunately the words get transformed as they travel through the air.

  • Entering their ears, what they hear is, "Do crazy things and then I'll fire you." Why? (Laughter) Because

  • Why? Because in the old world, okay, in the old world,

  • over here, getting stuff wrong was unacceptable.

  • If you got something wrong, you'd failed. How should you be treated?

  • Well, harshly, because you could have asked somebody who had experience.

  • So we learned the answer and we carried this in our heads for 20, 30 years, are you with me?

  • The answer is, don't do things which are different.

  • And then suddenly we tell them to and it doesn't work.

  • You see, in reality, there are two ways you can fail in our new world.

  • One, you're doing something that you should follow a procedure to, and it's a very difficult thing,

  • you're sloppy, you get it wrong. How should you be treated? You should probably be fired.

  • On the other hand, you're doing something new, no one's ever done before,

  • you get it completely wrong. How should you be treated?

  • Well, free pizzas! You should be treated better than the people who succeed.

  • It's called smart failure. Why? Because you can't put it on your C.V.

  • So what I want to leave you, then, is with the explanation

  • of why I actually traveled 60,000 miles from my desk.

  • When I realized the power of this new world,

  • I quit my safe teaching job, and set up a virtual business school,

  • the first in the world, in order to teach people how to make this happen,

  • and I used some of my learnings about some of the rules which I'd learned on myself.

  • If you're interested, worldaftermidnight.com, you'll find out more,

  • but I've applied them to myself for over a decade,

  • and I'm still here, and I still have my house, and the most important thing is,

  • I hope I've done enough to inject a little green ink into your lives,

  • so that when you go away and you're making your next

  • absolutely sensible and rational decision, you'll take some time to think,

  • "Hmm, I wonder whether this also makes sense

  • in our new world after midnight." Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you, thank you. (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

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【TED】Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world (Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/03/01
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