Let’s start from a matter-of-fact statement: change is a constituent part of any aspect of life, it stays at its very basis, for individuals and for societies. And we cannot avoid it: it is an inescapable aspect of our condition of finite beings, living within a space-time frame.
The only entity which escapes this necessity is the philosophical or religious concept of Eternal Being, which doesn’t need to change, because it encompasses all the possible changes.
In consideration of the centrality of change in our lives, we must therefore cultivate a culture of it, and avoid the risk to confuse it with doing something new.
Change is in my opinion based on two pillars.
The first is the knowledge of the past: if you do not understand the past, it is very difficult to interpret the present and almost impossible to design a future.
The second is curiosity, a distinctive part of our being human: curiosity urges us to pose questions and, once answers are found, to keep formulating more questions.
I am deeply convinced that the motor of change lies mostly on the ability to formulate the right questions: once you have them, than the right answers will inevitably follow.
This mechanism is deeply rooted in the progress of modern science where any new theory, even the most disruptive, incorporates the older one, surpassing its limitations or inconsistencies, while enlarging our understanding of Nature. But the scientists consider the new achievement as a provisional result, or if you like a truth without a capital “T”, and keep exercising the critical doubt, i.e. they keep asking deeper questions. And this process leads to the next advancement and so on.
A popular and often abused metaphor about change and innovation uses the “out of the box” image. My humble reflection is that in order to think out of the box, you must first realize that there is a box. I believe that the exercise of critical doubt is very helpful in that, especially in this era of rapid technological development, where the convergence of Big Data, the IoT, Elastic Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence is provoking enormous and not necessarily reassuring changes in our society.
A widely shared attitude to pose the right questions will be in my opinion the best tool to empower us to design a sustainable future and a better society.