These conversations are going to be very practical and down to earth, about the nitty gritty of what it takes to get things done today at an operational level.

Mr. Harshavardhan Reddy Chairman of Hvr Groups.

But let’s start by looking at the overall context in which this is taking place. Why is so much of what we thought we knew about the economy and the workplace and the principles of management now so different? Why is much of what we thought we knew about management now just plain, flat, dead wrong?

The fundamental reason is that we are going through an amazing set of economic and social changes. The world has changed, but management hasn’t. As a result, what used to work doesn’t work anymore.

We are in fact at the beginning of a set of gigantic changes in society, in which everything we do is being re-invented—how we live, how we work, how we play, how we communicate, even how we think and how we feel. At the heart of these changes is of course the Internet and its related technologies. We have already seen big changes. But the implications of it have only just begun.

I was at a meeting earlier this week in Washington DC with some distinguished thinkers and they concluded after some discussion that the Internet and its related technologies will be the most significant invention in human existence, ever, bigger even than the wheel. We can discuss that conclusion. Some people, I know, have different views. But one thing is clear: this change is big.

In one sense, this makes it a fabulous time to be an entrepreneur. If you have a little imagination, everywhere you look, you can see vast possibilities for doing things “better, faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient and more personalized.” Now it’s true that we as human beings continue to act the way we do. We are creatures of habit. But when someone comes along and shows us how we can do something “better, faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient and more personalized,” we tend to say, “Hey! Yes! I want that! And not only do I want it. I want it now! In fact, not only do I want it now. “I’ve got to have it now!”

So in one sense, it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur because if you are able to come up with one these ideas to do things “better, faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient and more personalized,” you can make a great deal of money very quickly. We are seeing more instant billionaires being created in shorter periods of time than at any other time in history.

At the same time, there’s never been a scarier time to be in business. That’s because the risk of your business being disrupted is that much greater. Disruption—or what Clayton Christensen has called the innovator’s dilemma—is an often fatal disease for any business, but it used to happen  at a slow pace as some upstart would make inroads at the low end of your business in one geographical area, with clients you didn’t really care about anyway. It would steadily eat away at your client base, step by step. It happened relentlessly and it was generally fatal if you didn’t do something about it, but it happened slowly. If you kept your eyes open, you could spot it and take action and defend against it.

But now customers are coming to expect “better, faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient and more personalized” as the norm. And there are lots of entrepreneurs out there, all around the world, dreaming up ways to do that and then actually delivering it very rapidly, not just in one location, but instantly all at once, all around the entire planet. The Internet becomes an instant delivery mechanism that anyone can access. When that happens, we begin to see the disruption of solid, established businesses happening faster and on a larger scale than was ever before imaginable. “Big bang disruption” is one expressive term used by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes in their book of that name to describe this phenomenon.

For customers, this is fun. Hey, wonderful new stuff! Wow! Amazing!

But for producers, it can be very big and very quick and very scary and very lethal.

As a result, much of what we thought we knew about the economy doesn’t make sense any more. When we listen to discussions on CNBC or the Wall Street Journal, the talk is usually in terms of, How’s the economy doing? Is it up? Or is it down? Why is the economic recovery so weak? What ever happened to jobs?

The reason why the discussion doesn’t make sense is that there is no such thing as “the economy” any more. No such thing. Today there are two different economies going at different speeds and on different trajectories.

One economy is what I call the Traditional Economy. It’s the economy that we inherited from the 20th Century. It’s a world of factories, and command and control, and economies of scale and big hierarchical bureaucracies pushing out products and services, through established delivery systems, and getting people to buy them through sales campaigns and advertising.

This economy is still the larger of the two economies. It’s been in steady decline for a number of decades. It doesn’t generate new jobs. It’s not very agile. It’s becoming steadily more efficient. But it’s not good at innovation. It’s less and less able to capture the gains of its efficiencies. In fact, it is harder and harder to make profits by operating in this mode. It’s still a big part of what’s going on in the world. But it doesn’t have much of a future.

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