A New Worldview

A New Worldview

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology


I want to challenge the way you believe the world works. And then suggest to you a new perspective.

The place to start is understanding that our worldview is constrained by the knowledge available to us. We know what we know; for example, I know how to ride a bike. Then there are things that we know we don’t know; I know that I don’t know how to speak Russian. But then there are the things we don’t know that we don’t know.

The faster things change, the less reliable our predictions of the future are because the very things that can cause massive disruption may not even have been invented yet. We don’t know what we don’t know.

This is the dangerous place retail executives find themselves: Not knowing what they don’t know. Not knowing what disruption lurks around the next corner. Retailers, like everyone, are working from a certain knowledge set that by default limits their understanding of what is possible. And yet to compete successfully, let alone survive, retail executives must throw some light on the vast abyss to bring some of what they don’t know they don’t know into the light. Said another way, retailers must adopt a new worldview.

Today, we as human beings are already in transition. We know the world is changing even if we don’t know why.

Exponential Growth: Tomorrow Will No Longer Resemble Today

We are at the knee of the exponential growth curve of computer processing power and from this day forward change will be increasingly noticeable and increasingly fast. While most are familiar with the definition of exponential growth, far fewer people truly understand the power and implications of this reality. We as human beings are wired to think linearly. Today is much like yesterday and we have lived our lives expecting that tomorrow will be much like today. Except that is no longer true, and this will become increasingly apparent. Physicist Albert Bartlett is blunt in his assessment: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

Today is the slowest pace of change you will experience in your lifetime.

Learn more about the Age of ‘i’ in Gary’s new bookRETAIL IN THE AGE OF ‘i’: A New World View for the Retail Industry now available on Amazon.

About the Author

Gary Hawkins is the founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART). He can be reached at gary.hawkins@advancingretail.org.

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