South Africa: Chaos Theory - Business Leaders Need to Rewire Their Brains to Be Future Fit for a Digital Economy


Business leaders today operate in an increasingly complex, volatile and unpredictable global ecosystem. Seemingly random events become the norm, and counterintuitive phenomena challenge the logical mind. This is frightening terrain that has the potential to paralyse leaders who do not understand chaos.

When George Boole developed Boolean algebra in 1847, nobody could have anticipated the impact it would have almost two centuries later -- as the foundation of the digital economy. By the 2000s, with the confluence of mathematics, chip technology and the internet, digitisation had rapidly ramped up on a commercial scale, with astounding and unimaginable results.

Our lives are now controlled by a highway of trillions of zeros and ones flashing around the globe, governing everything from the most sophisticated financial systems to appliances in ordinary households. The binary numbering system has come to dominate technology, setting the exponential growth of the digital economy. In 2020 the digital economy contributed $7-trillion to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), growing 2.5 times faster than other contributors to GDP growth over the past three years, while the seven fastest-growing companies globally are all digitally platformed.

The debate is no longer whether technology supports core competencies of business, it has shifted to...

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