Apegga1c.gif (2007 bytes) The PEGG
May, 1999
Page 11 Make Alberta Trail-blazer
Speaker Tells AGM Luncheon

wpe24.jpg (9168 bytes)Alberta could become a leader in the development of a post-industrial society, able to cope in a world fraught with ambiguity.

That challenge was directed by Alberta futurist Ruben Nelson to an audience attending the APEGGA AGM Luncheon in Calgary, April 23.

Mr. Nelson, a native Calgarian and the executive director of the Capitalizing on Change Project and president of Square One Management Ltd., outlined a number of factors making the world very different from the one in which his audience grew up.

"We now live in everyone’s face," said Mr. Nelson, noting that "global transparency" means we are almost instantly aware of what happens elsewhere in the world. Distance that once protected us from differences is no longer there, and we now must display a greater degree of maturity handling such differences.

We also have to realize that we are not just the objects on which natural forces work. At times we may be changing natural forces, such as the climate. Once we thought we could not affect the weather and, Mr. Nelson observed, we assumed "it was just like gravity."

Another major trend involves moving from a "silo" to a "systems" mentality. No longer can one take a piecemeal, compartmentalized approach to problem solving. We must consider the impact within a wider system— one which often operates with a high degree of ambiguity. It means that while employees once were hired on the basis of their technical ability and sometimes fired due to shortcomings in their interpersonal skills, we now hire for the ability to relate to a wider context.

Geared as we have been to extracting and selling our resources, Mr. Nelson suggested: "Alberta up until now has been fundamentally an engineering problem in a world of complexity."

We should be grateful for what our past has brought us, but we still lack the infrastructure, in business or government, to come to terms with a changing world of ambiguity. A careless response to this fact could mean we in Alberta lose much of what we have. But with "the courage and creativity to be trail-blazers" Alberta could turn into one of the first truly post-industrial societies, making it a leader much as Sweden was on the social front earlier in this century, Mr. Nelson concluded.


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