2016 was a very special year in so many aspects. Trump, Brexit, Terror, Wars & Refugee’s, the resurgence of authoritarian leaders, Zero Interest Economics, the beginning of the post-factual age etc. All these effects and causes contribute to high levels of uncertainty. Despite most economic and social indicators, pointing upwards with record low or reduced unemployment in many countries, the feeling of uncertainty prevails – in an almost post-factual manner. The media seems to be the message, finally.
Digital Media appears to play a major role in all of this. If multiple realms of truth is created by algorithms on an individual basis, societies drift apart. Each smaller and smaller segment of people is caught in an echo chamber, creating very divergent truths and realities. TV or classic journalism, which once nudged people to a common understanding with each broadcasts, each checked fact, are drowned by the cacophony of Twitter, Facebook and the like.
Digital Transformation is Human transformation
This Blog is focused on digital transformation of enterprises. Digital transformation of enterprises is seen as a tool for more success and the survival of businesses. Over the year that I have been writing on this blog one underlying theme could be seen: Without a transformation of the way companies are managed on a micro-, interpersonal level, digital transformation won’t happen.
Command & Control style of management has worked in the industrial age and will continue to work in lots of execution & efficiency focused settings. But it is clearly not up to the task in creating new products, scaling fast, creativity and innovation. Autonomy, mission driven approaches are clearly superior for those challenges.
Of course this a technocratic view of management and digital transformation: “The Challenge is a different one, so switch tools.” While certainly true, this is to simple. Not only tools need to change, also values will fundamentally change. Social skills, empathy and listening will be much more important than ever before. These soft, human aspects, combined with an ever more data driven way of thinking will create very interesting new ways of working and values indeed.
Someone will be left behind
While these are exciting times for people like you and me to work on these subjects, people are hurt. Lots of people are bound to feel tossed about in the ever accelerating wave of changes, with little control over their destiny. Hell, I think even Knowledge Workers feel they are less and less in control of their own destiny anymore. But at least they have some experience how to handle change and they have specific skills to rely on. But a shop attendant, what has this person to fall back on? If companies can only provide security for ever shorter times, individuals will seek this security elsewhere. We are in for enormous political upheaveals.
The Challenge to society
Digital Technology has taken a front seat in the political sphere since Brexit and Trump. If societies will can be bend in a post factual manner, we are in for exploitation of societies by individuals and groups. This basic threat to democracy might bring about authoritative regimes of unparalleled power.
The good news is that every force is subject to a counter force. Lots of Silicon valleys tech entrepreneurs are moving to face this challenge, to keep democracies alive and re-adjust them with the needs of a digital age. Take for example Steve Blank, who applies Lean Startup methods to help mitigate the refugee crisis and has started a “Hacking for Democracy initiative” involving the US State Department at Stanford University.
The future in uncertain. No-one is in control of the forces unleashed by digitalization. We might end up in:
- The Singularity, where humans transcend their current limitations.
- A world of shallow, not unhappy lives under control of the Circle
- Strong men Regimes and Wars: Erdogan, Putin, Trump(?)
Or any combination that science fiction may think of. Two things are for sure:
- We can not stop it
- We can still influence it, everyone
Happy new year!
And good bye to 2016! Or as John Oliver put it: