As a futurist I spend much of my time tracking failure. Why failure? Because they are the unforgiving anchors around which society changes directions.

In the U.S. we are now witnessing a record number of failures taking place. Just look around. Failed businesses, failed systems, failed jobs, and failed marriages.

Some failures are easily predicted, where a known problem looms larger and larger until a solution is found. Most, however, are not so easy. In many respects, failures are nature’s own system for checks and balances.

Failures attract attention. Much like a car accident causing a gawker’s block along the highway, failure attracts onlookers, some with offers to help, others moving quickly to avoid being painted with the same failure brush.

So what causes failure? Turns out that failure is just one relentless driver being perpetuated by a series of other relentless drivers. As we lift up the hood on this eight cylinder engine, here is what’s really going on.

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