Business Uncertainty and Compression Thinking

Coffee With Doc – Compression Thinking (Video 7 minutes)
Compression Institute Founder Doc Hall and Filmmaker Ethan Berry talk about Compression Thinking.

Business Uncertainty and Compression Thinking

Ours is a time of great uncertainty, of life and of business. Future cash flows are at risk from many sources, the fickleness of markets being but one. Regulatory changes re-sow old minefields. Complex financing may spring surprises. Environmental impacts seem to be only one of a huge array of issues. Questioning exactly what we are doing and why makes sense, but we don’t know where to start, so just keep plugging. When confidence in status quo systems is shaky, we must stop thinking in terms of the world we know and ride toward a different destiny.

Business needs a new concept of itself. Perhaps we can call it Compression Thinking.

The big emerging issues relate to the global environment. It keeps wedging forward, displacing politics, money, wars, and entertainment. To cope, leadership has to change. To start, can you sense that you are part of Earth, and it part of you? For example, trillions of microbes compose 90% of your body, closer kin than your mother. Literally seeing them requires microscopes, but can you imagine 90% of you being tiny beings that you can’t live without? Now expanding that idea. Envision all humanity fused into one big ecological system, too complex and too fast changing to be fully understood.

Since we utterly depend on it, you, me – all of us – we are responsible for that ecology’s wellbeing. If we do not serve it, it is not obliged to serve us. Look and this relationship is obvious, but blinded by our cash flow concerns, we seldom look. Were we alone on a small spaceship, it should be glaringly obvious that constant, careful attention to our on-board biological support systems is all that separates us from eternal oblivion.

But Earth is big. Problems with its ecology – our biological support system – seem remote, and they are piling up so fast that one can monitor them full time and still not keep up. Science reports one de
bacle at a time. Integrating a picture is confusing.

If you are in business, stir in the chaotic uncertainty of digital disruption. In 5 years will every little community have 3D technology to print items locally? Will Big Distribution (Amazon) win out over Big Box retailing, or will they both lose to something else? Will we still have anything resembling a middle class? Will we have nimble niches for small business? Or will the wheels come off the whole system?

We are inclined to box such issues into the framework of our business. We assume that change is manageable, that somehow we can update existing business models. Only the inefficient will lose because a version of the existing system will remain recognizable. But suppose it doesn’t. What if “ahead” or “behind” no longer meant anything in a non-linear, whack-a-mole world? Nothing any longer makes sense. Now what?

Compression Thinking, that’s what. Here are a few major contrasts with commercial thinking:

To really dig in, go to

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