“There is nothing permanent except change.”

— Heraclitus

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

— Reinhold Niebuhr

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

— Elon Musk

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

— John F. Kennedy

“Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer

“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

— Isaac Asimov

“In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.” — J. Paul Getty

— Isaac Asimov

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

— Stephen Hawking

“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.”

— Klaus Schwab

Big changes are coming to our world. Extremely big, and complex. So hard to keep track of what’s actually going on in this fast-evolving reality. Planners need some way to do this without spending huge amounts of time scanning, analyzing, and summarizing the torrents of information. I’m going to try to focus on this here as an experiment. Hope it works.

I have had the strong feeling for quite a while that something big is on the way for us. A recent post “Signs In The Sky? We’ll Soon Find Out” had a look at some very strange coincidences regarding the coming April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. No indication yet of just what this might portend – if anything.

My sense at this point is that whatever is coming is likely to be nasty but not catastrophic, except perhaps locally. Pretty much our current world misbehaving as usual, with maybe just another major hissy fit or two to celebrate the eclipse. Like the Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, and the Crocus massacre in Moscow. Are these truly just local happenings that reflect only the world doing it’s business as usual? Or perhaps signs of something bigger going on?

The world’s serious misbehavior evident these days has many people very concerned, myself included. Of course the world has always misbehaved, in an almost cyclical pattern across eons. Several of my recent posts have addressed this viewpoint. See, for example here.

At the moment, I am seeing this big-changes-are-coming sense rather differently – and now, personally.

Changes coming to this website

I am feeling very strongly that this website and its direction need to be changed significantly. Times have changed hugely since it was originally developed and has subsequently evolved.

It was initially aimed at supporting my executive coaching and consulting practice while allowing me separately to write about aspects of the business world that interested me. The consulting practice at the time was mainly assisting an extremely active board chairman with building a startup SaaS business into what is now a substantial analytics services provider.

At the same time, world events – and particularly COVID-19 – got me thinking more and more about where this incredibly odd world situation may be heading. Over the subsequent three-plus years, this interest has turned into an almost full-time effort.

I have looked at various modifications in direction since 2020, but none seemed to be consistent with what was happening in the world. Situations were changing so quickly and I was having such great fun researching and writing blog posts. I have published around 200 posts so far, and I intend to continue – but in a very different manner.

Consulting and executive support

Much to my surprise, I have found that I greatly miss the consulting aspect of my former work. The regular interactions with executives and senior managers were both challenging and fascinating. And I hope valuable to those folks.

These interactions often dealt with changes in the business and company environment, and how the company’s product set and direction might be adjusted and extended to deal advantageously with many of the changes.

Because I worked at the executive level, I became involved in a truly amazing range of issues and client concerns. I served in many cases as a sounding board in which role I provided a constructive, confidential, external viewpoint and ideas source. I am missing those interactions greatly.

Highly disguised past clients. For their stories, see here, here, and here.
Highly disguised past clients. For their stories, see here, here, and here.

The ai-ecoach blog changes

My intention with the blog posts was to help me understand whatever might be going on in the world so that I could try to apply my understanding, such as it was, to various real business challenges. Direction of this effort has pretty much followed my interests rather than being aimed at any particular focus or business requirement.

This seemed to work, sort of, when the world was somewhat stable. But COVID changed that world – forever. We now inhabit a world of incredibly rapid and chaotic change. My recent posts have attempted to make some sense, for myself at least, of whatever is going on out there in “reality”.

It has finally become clear to me that I now need a far-sharper focus – and some way to apply it to actual business and organization needs. After much thought and serious consideration, here is where I have come out …

The blog will continue but in a different format. Rather than offering a rather wide range of ideas and perspectives, it will focus instead on providing a current view of our world situation that readers can use to guide their own activities, businesses, and organizations.

This could save others from the many hours each week of research, analysis, and summarizing required to create and update such a focused worldview.

The existing blog content will remain available, but will be static henceforth. A new post series will address this evolving worldview, and will be updated weekly. It will also highlight important events as they occur.

Conciseness will be a major goal. It will be in the form of an executive summary aimed at executives and managers who have so much else on their plates. It will also be aimed at usefulness.

My worldview for planning purposes

The world is changing fundamentally, hugely, and permanently. This process cannot be stopped or managed, despite the fantasies of various rulers-and-wannabes. We will not have a big-nuke world war except by accident, in which case all bets are off. Instead, we will have a lengthy period of severe disruptions while the world system reorganizes and stabilizes itself.

So many businesses and organizations existing today will falter and fail. Some number will painfully reinvent themselves and effectively begin anew. Almost all will struggle – mostly reactively – with the coming world changes.

A few, however, will prepare now to assure their survival and even prosperity through whatever comes along. Many will choose a wrong path, or will look to the past for guidance. I think that there is still time for effective preparation.

I want to help a few farsighted and creative clients to both survive and thrive in the nasty years to come.

We are in a world storm. It will greatly impact every one of us and our organizations.
We are in a world storm. It will greatly impact every one of us and our organizations.

Don’t stand where the lightning strikes.

Good storm advice, yes? Well not quite. Where exactly will it strike? When will it strike? Will it cause flooding so I’m up to my whatever in muddy water? When will it quit? …

This is a perfect metaphor I think for what we face today and where my efforts will be focused. The world storm will be a long one, probably with a few welcome, but brief, respites. Lightning strikes will be unpredictable in timing and location. We all are virtually certain to get hit seriously at least once. Can we survive? Can we prepare? How?

A return to executive coaching and support

My work for many years involved broad-based and responsive support of various top executives and managers. Each one of these required something different and I was often asked to help address new needs as they came up. Flexibly. Quickly. Constructively.

One important change is that I no longer travel. With today’s amazingly powerful technology, travel has become a huge hassle and waste of time. Instead, I will rely on video-based (Zoom, Teams, …) interactions and Salesforce’s Slack secure technology for text messaging, file and media sharing, voice and video calls, and group chat for team collaboration.

If you are not familiar with Slack, see here.
If you are not familiar with Slack, see here.

These tools can be incredibly effective and productive, saving much time for both clients and myself. Fees will be reduced accordingly.

All of this will take place at my end over the next several weeks. Things should be in place in some fashion by around July 1, 2024. Meanwhile, I am available to talk with you at any time and to answer any questions you may have.

My contact information:

Gerry Allan
413-441-1571
gallan@msn.com
(Note: this email address contact will change, probably to one that is Slack-based, once things are up and running).

Myself, timeless version.
Myself, timeless version.

A concise worldview for planning, decision-making, and action

As I have noted so often in recent months, our world is changing – hugely, dramatically, unpredictably, and permanently. The past is gone, and will not be coming back in any form.

Planning, decision-making, and action will have to made almost completely in a forward-looking mode. Just like we have always done, right? So, what’s new?

The keyword to what’s new is unpredictability. You can no longer simply extrapolate, except possibly for the very short-term. Well, you can, but in doing so you implicitly make the assumption that things will not change significantly during your planning (and consequent action) horizon.

Is your planning, decision-making, and action process designed specifically to function effectively in times of huge uncertainty and unpredictability?

➧ Do you know and understand your most important points of vulnerability to unpredictable impacts? How resilient are you?

➧ Are you structured so as to be as adaptable as possible – able to respond creatively and effectively to events and situations as they arise?

➧ Are you sufficiently agile to be able to handle quickly and effectively various events and situations as they arise?

These are my three primary components for success (and survival) in the days ahead:

  • Agility
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience 

I have written quite a number of posts on these, but they will be revisited as needed on a client-by-client basis going forward. They are highly company- and organization-specific in application.

A powerful combination to survive and thrive in times of great uncertainty.
A powerful combination to survive and thrive in times of great uncertainty.

A baseline worldview for planning, decision-making, and action

While this worldview at the top level will be pretty much the same for individuals, groups, businesses, and organizations, it will differ greatly in how it might impact each one individually. It is the top level worldview that will be available on this website, beginning with the next post.

The baseline worldview for posts going forward will track my seven primary current concerns:

#1. WW III

#2. The 2024 elections

#3. Disease-X

#4. Ukraine, Gaza, …

#5. Digital IDs and CBDCs

#6. Economic outlook

#7. Climate crisis

These concerns may change from time to time as events and situations, along with various rulers-and-wannabes, are all busily rearranging the world.

It is extremely important to view these concerns as largely unpredictable. They are in effect a flock of black swans that may be seen incoming at a distance, but their paths and landing places will not be evident. Recall that a black swan is an event or situation that it is unforeseeable in nature, magnitude, and timing except in the most general manner.

If you can foresee it in some detail, it is not a black swan. Assuming that this at all matters.

None of these events and situations are what they appear. There is so much going on behind the curtain. Many powerful groups and people are competing for dominance. Winner(s) if any will be evident only long after the fact.

An example worldview in draft/placeholder form (summary section only), appears at the end of this post.

Things of vital importance today are changing rapidly

The pace of change, as you have surely noticed, has increased almost unimaginably in recent years. What used to roll out over years now takes a month, or a week, or even a day. This means that our responsiveness to whatever happens must be fully able to keep pace.

Huge numbers of groups, businesses, and organizations are going to struggle mightily, and many will fail, during the next couple of years, and likely well beyond. Very few are sufficiently aware of what’s happening and are taking effective steps to ensure survival as well as, if possible, a resilient recovery.

What’s happening is not local, nor national, nor nation-block. It is truly global. There is literally no place to run or hide. And it must be dealt with head-on as it occurs.

So many of our activities have been designed and are operated today for more stable, more gradual, more predictable, times. We now face chaotic, sudden, huge, changes that can only be foreseen in vague forms. By the time we can clearly see what’s going on – should this ever be possible, the time for responding will often be approximately zero or less. Responses consequently will be mostly haphazard, poorly thought-out, and not well-focused. Panic responses in many cases.

This is the world in which we live and operate. Nobody knows where we are headed. Nobody can do much of anything to affect where the world is going. We are forced into a real-time reactive mode. Is there any way we can do something in preparation for such times?

Yes, of course – as noted above … agility, adaptability, resilience

Each of these vital capabilities can be strengthened today, making your chances of surviving, and even thriving, far better. They should make you stronger no matter what happens. Apart from of course a big-nuke world war, which will reset most of the world to post-dinosaur-extinction days.

These three will have to be designed differently for each specific group. Why? Because each has different people, different systems and abilities, different resources, … long list. There is no one-size-fits-all here.

… and finally …

Getting started on coaching services: a test-drive

Should you be interested in learning more about the coaching services, I am offering a services test-drive on a specific issue that you might like to discuss. It would likely involve a few sessions, depending on the issue, but could stop at any convenient point.

The goal would be for you to give a firsthand sense for how well what I can offer fits your particular needs and style.

So, if you would like to arrange for a test-drive, here is what I think might work. I like to keep things as simple, informal, and responsive as possible.

#1. Target issue: Choose an issue, concern, or need that is of special interest to you today. It can be almost anything that you feel is important – to you and your organization.

#2. Initial session setup: Contact me to set up an initial session. I prefer not to use email or texts since these are not secure – except to set up an initial conversation. This initial session can be done using Zoom, or a similar platform.

#3. Initial session: Initial conversation in which you tell me as much as you care to about your target issue, concern, or need. In turn, I’ll answer any questions you may have about myself, my background, or pretty much anything. If you are sufficiently comfortable with this initial conversation, then we can set up a next session to address it. If not, that’s it. No obligation or fee.

#4. Initial response: Assuming you are okay with going forward a bit, I’ll get things rolling by responding to your initial issue, concern, or need. This I’d like to do via Slack since it is fully secure. I am super-sensitive about security and confidentiality, as you’ll quickly see. The response will be written, both to give you an example of how I work and think, and as a way of process documentation.

#5. Go-no-go decision: When you have read my feedback, you can decide whether you want to continue. If yes, then we can set up a next test-drive session. If not, again, that’s it. No obligation or fee.

#6. Test-drive closure: After a few test-drive sessions, you can let me know whether you would like to continue on a fee-based relationship. How many test-drive sessions? You’ll know pretty quickly. Your call on this. It is vital that you feel fully comfortable with our interactions.

#7. Going forward: I prefer to keep things as informal and flexible as possible. No contract unless you have some requirement for one. Again, my process is based on complete confidentiality and security. For how long might this process continue? Your call. You can stop at any time.

How does this sound?

Gerry Allan Bio

Gerry Allan has a broad background in technology, consulting, and general management.

His education includes a doctorate in business decision analysis from Harvard University, an MBA in applied economics from University of California Berkeley, a master’s degree in electronics engineering, and an undergraduate degree in engineering physics. He studied and worked for two years with Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Harry Levinson who wrote the definitive book “Organizational Diagnosis”.

As an independent management consultant, he assisted clients in areas from supply chain management to quality assurance systems, profitability improvement programs, distribution system redesign, operations reorganizations, and service quality improvement, and a precursor to Zillow.

His management experience provided firsthand knowledge of most business functions in both large and small companies. Positions held include start-up CEO and tech entrepreneur, COO for a software developer, CFO for a fast-growing electronic components manufacturer, VP of marketing/sales for an industrial microwave systems manufacturer, purchasing manager for one of Canada’s largest gas transmission companies, and VP of operations for a pioneering metallurgical company.

He served as an executive coach and planning resource for many CEOs and senior managers. His role varied greatly with each client, and even changing over time with long-term clients in response to changing client needs. In these, he was involved in business startups, financing, early growth, adapting to change (major organizations particularly), product set definition and marketing, personnel evaluation and unit reorganizations, and executive presentation design and drafting.

A draft example worldview (executive summary portion only)

Below is a first draft worldview that will be modified for the next post based on the latest real world inputs and will include some supporting information from sources I trust (somewhat, at least). Contents at this stage are simply placeholders. The seven focus concerns are mine. They target a hypothetical business.

For clients, these would be modified weekly to reflect their specific concerns and would of course be client-confidential.

Why seven? Focus is critical.

The goal is to create a practical, real-world backdrop for serious planning and action.

This example worldview is aimed at a hypothetical manufacturer in order to show what client-specific versions might contain. For each real business or organization, it would be quite different in content because situations and concerns would be different.

Note also that the worldview concerns will be supported by information that is updated each week in these open posts. What appears below is essentially an executive summary.

The worldview for post purposes will change each week based on what is happening in the real world, to the extent that this can be identified. For clients, their confidential worldviews will be different and also updated weekly, but will not be used for post purposes.

If you do not have a worldview something like this to guide your planning, you will be reacting to events and situations as they emerge and impact you. Reactively – and, so often, too late. Our world today is not kind to the hesitant.

Again, it is important to remember, when looking at the following draft worldview for a hypothetical business, that an actual worldview would be specific to a user business. Focus concerns will likely be somewhat different and prioritized differently.

#1. World War III
#2. The 2024 Elections
#3. Disease-X
#4. Ukraine, Gaza, ...
#5. Digital IDs and CBDCs
#6. Economic outlook
#7. Climate Crisis