By Rob Reiche January 2019
Dot.com, Blackberry, Google glasses …?
After all the reports of technology failures, I have developed a rather skeptical attitude towards the hyperbole emanating from Silicon Valley. Social media, artificial intelligence and machine learning all seem to promise the dawn of new age — allowing us to finally manage the complexity of human society for the well-being of all – so why am I less than enthusiastic?
Well, the short answer is that it is not what has happened.
Douglas Rushkoff, professor of media theory at Queens University CUNY in his recently published book, Team Human, offers an analysis of what is going wrong.
With fake news, Russian election hacking, and the general meanness of our online world, many know the utopian sheen is off our digital technologies.
Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the internet has only further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups.
What many don’t know, however, is why things went so wrong — or what our next steps should be.
In his book he has a call to arms for the “human” to be returned to a rightful place in society.
Notably, a troubling dilemma now appears to be confounding many business leaders. The advantages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution of enhanced decision-making and management in business is being offset by negative behaviours in the organisation to the detriment of performance and growth.
By chance, a number of years ago, as a member of small group of systems thinkers and organisational development facilitators, we sought to address the perennial issue of getting leaders to both act as empowered agents and also in collaboration with peers. The result was a transformational process we called a resourcefulness programme.
In essence, resourcefulness is about getting things done with the resources at hand. We found that it begins with the awareness of available resources (internal e.g. personal knowledge, skills and external e.g. team capability, experience), confidence to formulate a practical solution (trust in the creative process) and the energy and drive to implement it (empowerment/commitment).
So the concept was to enable participants to reclaim what we all inherently have, internal and external resources (or dots as we labelled them) – from beliefs, values, knowledge, skills to time, energy and action. This experience gave rise to the mantra ….
Know the dots, connect the dots and use the dots.
Our process of developing resourcefulness in the workplace has evolved over subsequent years and drew on the works of Russell Ackoff, Carl Rogers, Henry Nelson Wieman, Dan Siegel, Timothy Wilson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Les Fehmi, Paul Zak and many others.
The results were proponents of resourcefulness who were able to:
- Harness the power of thoughts, concepts and competencies to advance performance in the workplace (empowerment/enablement)
- Find insights and create breakthrough solutions (innovation/creativity)
- Act co-operatively and in concert to accelerate progress and goals (synergistically)
- Connect with others to enhance a sense of group identity and commitment (empathy/influence)
Originally, we set out to prepare individuals to act as empowered agents in heading teams, setting up entrepreneurial ventures or being part of an executive leadership team. Fortuitously, we ended up placing the empowered and accountable human at the centre of the workplace and the concept of resourcefulness was born.
In a Millennial world, the workplace places an emphasis on creativity and innovation, where strong teamwork and synergy is also required.
In Rushkoff’s own words: “Being social may be the whole point.” Harnessing wide-ranging research on human evolution, biology, and psychology, Rushkoff shows that when we work together we realize greater happiness, productivity, and peace. If we can find the others who understand this fundamental truth and reassert our humanity, together, we can make the world a better place to be human.
Clearly, we can never impede the inevitable advance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and technology. However, the application of resourcefulness in the workplace has been revelation. In my view it presents an appropriate solution to the Millennial issue by reinforcing humanness in the workplace in order to promote performance, happiness and drive.
Are you aware of what other approaches have been implemented to tackle this growing demand for human connection in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?