As part of my deep dive into creativity this month, one of the books I’m reading is ‘Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative‘ by Ken Robinson. One of his chapters deals with the pace of change, and therefore the need for imagination and creativity.

As I’ve said before, Innovation is the execution (the next step) of Imagination and Creativity –> Envisage, Create, Believe (my words for Imagination, Creativity, Innovation). Imagination and Creativity is the fuel for Innovation. Without the first two, there’s nothing to execute (innovate).

He does a fantastic job presenting the pace of change. Here are three examples I found really interesting:

The differences are not only in the nature of change but also in the pace of it. The most profound changes haven’t happened in the last 500 years: most of them have happened in the past 200 years and especially in the last 50 and they’re getting faster. According to one estimate:

  • in the 1950’s the average person travelled 5 miles per day;
  • in 2000 the average person travelled about 30 miles per day; and
  • in 2020 the average person will travel about 60 miles per day.

Spend a little time pondering how that has changed our lives. It’s huge. It’s far greater than just more time traveling. It speaks to our view of the world, what we’re capable of, who we’re able to meet and engage with, what we have access to, etc, etc.

He then goes on and asks the read to imagine the past 3000 years on the face of a 60 minute clock with each minute marker representing 50 years. Using that as our measure, Robinson points out that up until 3 minutes ago transport was dominated by the horse, the wheel and the sail.

  • 4 minutes ago – internal combustion engine (1807)
  • 2.5 minutes ago – motor car (1885)
  • 2 minutes ago – first powered airplane flight (1903)
  • 1.9 minutes ago – rocket propulsion (1915)
  • 1.5 minutes ago – jet engine (1930)
  • 1 minute ago – first man made object orbits the earth (1957)
  • 50 seconds ago – first manned moon landing and moon walk (1969)
  • 30 seconds ago – reusable space shuttle (1981)
  • 2 seconds ago – roadable aircraft (2009)
  • 1 second ago – unmanned spaceplane (2010)

If you then did the same exercise with technology, it’d read like this:

  • 11 minutes ago – the printing press (1440 – 1450)
  • 3.4 minutes ago – morse code (1838 – 1844)
  • 2.7 minutes ago – the telephone (1875)
  • 2.5 minutes ago – radio (1885)
  • 1.6 minutes ago – black and white television (1929)
  • 54 seconds ago – fax (1966)
  • 41 seconds ago  – personal computer (1977)
  • 38 seconds ago – analogue cell phone (1979)
  • 25 seconds ago – world wide web (1990)
  • 22 seconds ago – sms messaging (1993)
  • 13 seconds ago – broadband (2000)
  • 1 second ago – 3D-TV (2010)

As Robinson points out in the book, we should probably view this as the beginning of change at this pace. There is no reason to think we’re slowing down or in a maturing phase when it comes to the pace at which we are introducing change through innovations on all fronts.

In the next 50 years we may see changes that are as unimaginable to us now as the iPad would have been to John Shakespeare.