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The Accelerating Pace of Change

The world is changing at a faster and faster rate. It’s not our perception; it’s a genuine phenomenon that is explained by the networking principles that form the basis of our social systems.

The pace of life systematically increases with population size: ideas spread faster, businesses are born and die more often, and economies continue to grow. This increase in pace follows Geoffrey West's 15% rule, which states that if the population doubles then the pace of life will increase by 15%.

Sustaining this growth requires the time between innovations to get shorter and shorter. Significant changes and paradigm-shifting discoveries must happen at an ever-accelerating pace. The general pace of life is quickening but also that rate at which companies must innovate is getting faster and faster!

To see this in action, we only need to look to history. It took humans over a thousand years to move from the Stone Age to the Iron Age but less than thirty years to move from the “Computer Age” to the “Digital Age”.

You can see this same acceleration in the developments of human consciousness. Frederic Leroux’s work defining five stages of social consciousness development demonstrated how the time it takes for societies to shift phase is decreasing.

All of this means that although time isn’t getting faster, the pace of change is speeding up relative to it, driven by the forces of social interaction. It’s the reason we feel life is getting faster and also why companies must find new ways to develop innovations at a faster rate than ever before.