20 years ago, an almost unknown company called “Google” launched a search-engine for through the internet connected computer. Since then, the world – or better our perception of the world – has changed fundamentally. “Digitization” is the almost religious mantra of today. It’s ideology predicts the transformation of almost all aspects of our social and business life. Human brains will hand over to Artificial Intelligence. This seems the dominant narrative of popular future visions and futurists. But is this really true? Or has the digitization dynamics already peaked and we are going to face what some call a “techlash”?
The selfie-generation – human or digital ?
The Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, known for it’s bestseller “Generation X”, recently provoked with a statement: “I miss my pre-internet brain”. The pre-internet brain seemed to know better who we are, what we want to be, what our identity is. But the economics of modern digital communication systems seem to manifest itself by the sum of accumulated clicks, number of influencer or likes. Dopamin, the motivation-hormon, is the fuel that drives our behavior. our social brain works like a search engine for resonance. We reward our brain by checking mails, getting a WhatsApp message, getting likes and we are getting hooked on the endless trigger for dopamine and endorphin – we are so addicted to it, that we don’t dare to switch off our cell-phones anymore or not checking emails over the weekends.
The Internet has disappointed people instead of advancing them. The Net has become a machine of inequality and division, driven by powerful interests with their own agendas.
Tim Berners-Lee – founder of the Worldwide Web.
In the internet channels, everyone seems to have a megaphone to shout out his opinion, to hate others or launch his version of #metoo campaigns before anyone has proven the underlying facts. In the world of “fakenews” the sender seems to be the only beneficiary of messages, without consequences or moderation by any means. But this slowly seem to change.
Social Media usage data is peaking for the first time. Platform hero’s like Facebook is challenged how they monetize private personal data, Google all of a sudden is not clear whether they are really not “evil” and we don’t want to let Alex coming into our living room to listen all our private conversations. Even the “Arabic spring” supported by Facebook universal communications is being replaced by the reality of Russian internet trolls creating the first ever Twitter president of the free world in the white house.
The Era of “Postdigital” – a life after the hype.
Postdigital does not mean the end of digital use-cases, but the end of the totalirity of Digitization. Say goodbye to the mythos of condionless Disruption. In the future there is going to be more variation of doing things “better” or doing things “right” – more discussion about blind “innovation” versus true “progress”. Slogans like “Digital First” are more and more perceived like naive technology mantras, opening the ask for more humanism, more thinking and discussion. And more practical realization.
“Almost overnight the digital evangelists have disappeared: missionaries – corporate or self-proclaimed – who carried the word of the good Internet into the world.”
DER SPIEGEL 44/2018
The new postdigital dictionary opens new categories like “Digital-Analog” balance, where it is ok, to switch off digital assistants or smartphones for a weekend. “Digital Diversity” deals with the fact, that digital startups (actually silicon valley as such), programing students diversity or artificial intelligence tend to have a male bias. “Human-digital” is a thought school, that prefers the human argument against the dynamics of the net.
The next Wave – leading through complexity
Every new technology generation goes through a phase of hype, of overpromising and denial of conflicts – printing, radio, TV, and now the internet and digitization as the universal incarnation. The net cannot be “objective” vs. the genuinely human feeling it creates right now like hatred, greed, negativity, superficiality. At some point the saloons in the wildwest closed, where the one with the biggest rifle seem to be in charge. Replaced by a complex, social regulatory.
Many companies are using digitalization as surrogate drug for the real questions why they exist in front of their customers, employees and societies. They try to keep customers away through digital instead of using it to get closer to them and engage more frequently. Digital patterns or algorithms decide as single truth about customer and employee value versus empathy and proximity. In fact complexity increases on many fronts and we should use technology to get more efficient and more effective at the same time. Using technology to get more time dealing with the complexity of business and life is the mantra – not outsource it to technology.
Embracing new tools, methods and thought schools about how to deal with complex thinking and implementation is a must of agile organizations. We used to manage and lead in a mainly reactive way, triggered by events, optimized to find the fasted way to solution based on patterns of the past. Exactly what machines or algorithms are good at and tend to replace human capacity – acting digital does not yield enough progress anymore. Resilient organizations intuitively know how to deal with complex future oriented systems: They think in options, ask questions, build not existing experience with trials and pilots, they talk to customers more and not less and they are deeply engaged with their economic environment.
Prepare for the “post-digital era” and invest im human capacity in your business and learn how to deal with the complexity of dealing with human+digital in your company.
Defining success in the future? Be inspired and inspire people around you how to use technology for a greater purpose in life and in business.