I’m a huge John Hagel fan. He nails it again in this new Druckerforum piece that you absolutely must read, today, on the topic of technology versus humanity. Here are the best snippets (emphasis by me):
“Here’s another paradox: the rise and spread of industrial society was at one level a product of that powerful imagination and yet that very same society has been on a quest to limit and contain that imagination. Our industrial society embraces scalable efficiency. It thrives on predictability and reliability and views imagination with some ambivalence – it drives innovation, but on the other hand undermines predictability and reliability….there’s a third paradox: digital technology has intensified the quest for scalable efficiency and undermined our humanity while at the same time opening up the possibility of a new renaissance of the imagination that can help us to recapture our humanity”
“In part, these extreme events surface because we have turned over decision-making to our globally connected machines. For example, at least part of the increasing price volatility in stock markets is driven by automated trading that instantaneously responds to the latest event, without leaving any time for reflection. On the other hand, these extreme events also surface because global connectivity makes it far easier to scale initiatives than ever before, especially through the development of platform businesses that harness network effects”
“…we tend to suppress our imagination and stay within our comfort zone, looking for narrow ways to squeeze out that next increment of performance improvement, hoping that we can at least make it to the next quarter. In other words, we suppress our humanity and look longingly at the efficiency and reliability of the machines around us. We tighten our focus on the computer generated data and analytics that offer the promise of greater efficiency within the world as we know it…”
“Done right, we can unleash a virtuous cycle. The more we succeed in overcoming our imperfections, weaknesses and mistakes, the more willing we are to imagine more boldly and the more boldly we imagine, the more motivation we have to address and overcome our limitations. but..what the consequences might be if we surrender our humanity to the mounting performance pressure that we are all experiencing. We need to understand that the choice is ours – that there is nothing inevitable about the trajectory that we are on. If we choose to re-claim our humanity, we can take the very same technology that is squeezing the humanity out of us and re-focus it on ways to reinforce and amplify our humanity”
John Hagel is Founder and Chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, a research center based in Silicon Valley. A long-time resident of Silicon Valley, he is also a compulsive writer, having written 7 books, including his most recent – The Power of Pull.
And here are 4 very much related videos from my recent speaking engagement on exactly this topic…
And finally, some videos by John Hagel