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February 27, 2017

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 1.47.34 PMThank You for Being Late:  An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

By: Thomas Friedman

The title of this book comes the author’s experience of waiting for a friend whose lateness, rather than seeming rude, was a welcome respite that allowed him to just think…about things – about the day – about the world.   Ever think that things are moving just too fast?  You’re not alone, and Friedman, author of The World is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded, agrees with you.  And, he explains that everything will keep getting faster, in large part because computation power is growing exponentially.  (Moore’s Law.*)

Not that he believes that this “age of accelerations” will change, or that it should change.  The challenge, he says, is keeping up.   Humankind’s ability to adapt to change is not accelerating at the same rate that the changes are coming and affecting daily life – the “supernova” of increasingly faster technology, economic globalization, and climate change. He explains how these forces interact with and affect the other, adding to accelerations.    Thus, the feeling and everything is spinning beyond our control.   Yet, Friedman is hopeful that humans will learn adapt by developing a “dynamic stability,” whereby the structures of our governments, educational institutions, workplaces, and communities, become more flexible in order to respond quickly to changes in the world.  It is a sea change in approach, as most of our institutions are mired in “how it’s always been done.”  But, Friedman points to examples of dynamic stability that already exist, such as how AT&T’s approach to employee training allowed them to succeed when the acquired the exclusive distribution of the powerful IPhone.

Friedman gives a useful historical overview of how we got where we are today, and offers many well-researched real world examples based on interviews with movers and shakers in the fields of technology, climate science, and the worlds of business and finance.  Friedman calls himself an “explanatory journalist.” In this very readable work, he has taken on a complex subject and written about it in such a way that both the technologically unsophisticated and savvy can come to a better understanding of how our interconnected world works (and doesn’t work) and how different that world will inevitably become. Just as it ever was.   Many reviewers call this “required reading,” and here’s hoping many of us, including our leaders in all aspects of life, will take heed.

*Moore’s Law:  Moore’s Law is a computing term that originated around 1970; the simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years.

Review By:  Donna LeFeber