The seeds of solution are found inside our problems: Let’s get to farming

By Jim Whitt

The seeds of solution are found inside our problems: Let’s get to farming

I have good news and bad news. First the bad news — a sampling of recent online headlines:
• 46.2 million Americans are now poor…
• 22% of children in poverty…
• Dramatic drop in median income…
• Likely to worsen…
• ABBAS: Palestinians want full UN membership…
• Netanyahu set for UN showdown…
• Anti-Israel subway signs in NYC spark religious war of words…
• Bloomberg warns of riots

Our world is in a state of disruption. Our nation is in a state of disruption.

Business is in a state of disruption. Marc Andreessen wrote a Wall Street Journal essay under the ominous sounding title Why Software Is Eating The World: “More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.”

It’s not really new technology that is disrupting, it’s just the new. Anything new is a disruption. And we human beings hate disruptions. We like status quo. We like comfort. We like stability. We like predictability. We like established structures. And that’s precisely why we’re in the mess we’re in. Our established structures are failing miserably.

According to the World Economic Forum, the United States has fallen from having the world’s most competitive economy in 2008 to having the fifth most competitive economy in 2011. Why? The forum cited weaknesses such as rising government debt, declining public faith in political leaders and corporate ethics. There is no way to sugar coat it. If you don’t think we have serious problems you are either dead or delusional.

Now, here’s the good news. “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution,” wrote Norman Vincent Peale. “If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”

Think of problems as seed pods. Disruption takes its meaning from the word rupture, which means to burst or break. To get the seed the pods have to be ruptured. Soil has to be disrupted in order to plant the seed. Our established structures — business, government, you name it — are being disrupted. And that’s a good thing. It’s the way we find the solutions to our problems.

Mr. Andreessen wrote about how new technology is disrupting our lives. But I also found seeds of solution in his essay: “Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.”

It was Thomas Jefferson who famously wrote, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” Jefferson’s statement is true not only of politics but of everything. The computer revolution was a necessary disruption. It is enabling a global technological transformation to take place.

We tend to think of technology as computers and software. But according to Wikipedia, “Technology is the making, usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or serve some purpose.” Our problems contain the seeds of their solution — but we need new methods of farming.

We will not solve the problems we face in business and government with yesterday’s solutions. We need more disruption not less. We have to introduce new technologies (the making, usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization), disrupt the status quo (crack the pods) and find solutions (the seed).

Take another look at the headlines. The world is in a state of disruption. We have a lot of problems. That means we have a lot of seed. It’s time to fire up the tractor. We have a lot of farming to do.

Leave a Comment