Yesterday’s solutions have led to myths that control current mining thinking.
Each myth began as a solution for a specific era of time.
A myth follows a life-cycle S-curve pattern. It slowly begins as a new idea in the embryonic stage. A growth spurt occurs when people embrace the idea; the adoption rate rapidly increases. A myth can perpetuate for many years, decades, centuries. As time passes and the myth matures, it succumbs to changes in society, technology, and environment. Methods founded on the myth struggle to solve prevailing problems. Different solutions emerge, some based on research breakthroughs and some unfortunately based on pseudoscience. This crisis period is pictorialized by the “yellow bubble.” As the myth is still the dominant paradigm, myth protectors attempt to maintain the status quo by denying, challenging or crushing the rise of disruptive ideas.
It sounds wise for organizations who are generating big profits to show reluctance to change. Everyone has heard the story about Kodak whose managers didn’t recognize soon enough that digital technology would decimate its traditional business. According to these managers, it’s a myth. They were very aware of the new technology. The failure was not convincing Kodak executives to provide R&D funding. The finance decision-makers did not want anything to disrupt the flow of money coming from film.
For consultants who have created a lucrative business, it’s reasonable to keep “milking the cow.” After all, the myth has not reached the peak yet. Enticing spinoff solutions are sold to clients such as “train the trainer” to institutionalize the myth and strengthen the consulting relationship. Late maturity is often marked by a professional certification program with stepped levels of knowledge attainment. Learn all there is to know and earn a badge. But it’s also a signal the declining stage of the S-curve is nearing.
Others realize earlier in the life-cycle the ground beneath is dramatically shifted. They appreciate the myth’s thinking has been valuable and still delivering results. However, they also know why clients are staying awake at night thinking about unresolvable problems. As Peter Senge said: “Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions.” It’s time to “jump the S-curve” and explore what the next Age and its solutions has to offer.
Our intent is to not criticize the past by searching for root cause, blaming someone, but learning from it. We have the pleasure of hindsight bias.
Industrial Age Myth 1: The best way to run a mine is to focus on cost certainty and manage people as if they are parts of a machine.
Information Age Myth 2: Mine operations should be optimised from start to finish to produce the best results.
Ecology Age Myth 3: We can achieve social licence acceptance and safety aims within our current management paradigm by pursuing effective culture change.