Complexity, experience, and weakness of youth

Reading Jonny Schneiders book “Understanding design thinking, lean, and agile” (2017) I came over this highly intriguing sentence, about complex adaptive systems:

“They’re unknowableThere are multiple truths, and the system cannot be described from only one perspective or language. That is, nobody really understands everything. And we can’t fully know anything.

They’re intractable: That is, nobody is in control, the current condition emerges, and nothing is predictable.”

Counteract your lack of experience

So to truly understand something like “the future of AI”, your own future, the future of The US politics, it seems we can`t read ourselves up and then fix it. We sure as hell can’t read CNN and draw a conclusion without 50 cognitive biases sweeping in on our logic. Experience and deep involvement is often key to success, which is why authors like Keith Sawyer sheds light on the fact that breakthroughs often come from people with 10 years deeply involved in a topic (zig zag, 2013). A problem then, is for youth to understand how we can actually have any real impact and make something that creates lasting change, is new, or changes current conditions. Especially in business, research, and politics – the youth are standing weaker due to lack of experience and time to be deeply involved, and the only countermove we have is the potential ability to gain experience quicker than the “big ones”.

spiral of innovation

Jonny Schneider, 2017.

Instead of waiting until you know everything on paper, go out and test your ideas. That idea can be to build a new phone sustainable, an idea to change social standards, or to simply change incrementally inside your own organization. The point is that moving fast, using design thinking to understand, lean methodology to quickly test and assess your idea in real life, and using agile principles to quickly adapt your solution can help overcome your lack of experience. Simply told: Failing faster, better, and cheaper than the big business, politicians or people stuck in a rut can be your way in.  

“To rely on the past is at best irrelevant. At worst catastrophic.”
       – Nassim Taleb (2009)



The past doesn’t tell the future

When talking about the future of technology, as we are heading into the fourth industrial revolution, we are often pointing back in time on the other revolutions which have a 30-50 years room apart from each other, as the truth. We often use history to say what will happen in the future, but thinking about it I can’t turn away from Nassim Taleb`s sentence in the book “Black Swan” (2009):

“1. To rely on the past is at best irrelevant. 2. At worst catastrophic, We overestimate what we know, and underestimate what we don’t know.”
– Nassim Taleb

mindbending (highres)

Another advantage you have as a youth (if you are able to keep a curious and open mind), is that you can look at the future with the eyes you would like to. Because the past doesn’t tell the future, you should see an opportunity to change something you truly care about as something very real and possible, no matter the hardships you face. When you have the opportunity and you are empowered to move fast with less, you should always do that. Throw away the fear, and start failing so fast that no one will understand what hit them, and fight for what you believe in – but stay open and reflect to ensure that you end up working towards what you started on in the first place.

Seeing as most youth in the world are not empowered, that most people do not have the same opportunities as youth in Norway, Sweden or Denmark, it’s imperative that more initiatives focus on not only gathering youth but also educating them, helping them, pushing them and ultimately giving them a real platform to jump from.



Written by Didrik Strøhm

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