In her latest Thursday Night Insight, Carol-Ann Morgan points out that our best intentions are not always quite as well received as we might hope.
In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton compiled his three laws of motion. The third law is commonly reported as…
“To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”
Whilst these are physical laws governing relationships between the forces acting on a body and the motion of the body, and concern acceleration and mass, I wonder if Sir Isaac realised the full potential of his laws in the social and political arena.
The environmental story has been hovering around the top of the political agenda for some time now and, consequently, there is considerable attention given to the issues being debated in the press. However, we are having trouble grasping the arguments, as they are so equivocally defined and incalculable to the man on the street. Whilst experts argue amongst themselves as to the level of influence from our behaviours, and even the value of action, most of us are left confused as to what we should do next.
Excited by the idea of developing alternative fuels which reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere and potentially threaten the long-term future of the planet, the growth of some crop-based biofuels has now been shown to carry some responsibility for recent global food shortages. Similarly, engines developed to reduce emissions appear to have created social tensions and increasing hardship amongst communities living and working around the platinum mines.
Examples such as these can be found all around us, and they demonstrate that there can be counter-reactions to most of our actions, particularly so in the commercial environment. These counter-reactions can be both positive and negative; delivering business opportunities or threatening our existing business operations or offerings. This is where research plays a strong role. Testing concepts and new business offerings in the marketplace can throw up any unexpected or unwanted reactions, which then prepare us for the future. Being in possession of this knowledge enables us to take advantage of new opportunities and also mitigate threats to the business.
Change and development are critical to the future of most businesses; spotting the needs of the future before they are in full view, and responding to them, is critical. However, Newton’s law serves to remind us to ensure we are aware of, and give due consideration to, potential unwanted consequences which may be harmful to the future security of our business.