Transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. We are coming out of the Industrial Age (characterized by efficiency, repetition and thus standardization – building a ‘system of sameness’ in every aspect of life) into a new age, which some people call the Information Age. I am not sure about that name, Information Age, as I see information as, the enabler, rather than the purpose and intention in itself. I would like to call it the Connection Age or The New Renaissance (characterized by creation, contribution and thus participation – building a ‘universe of uniqueness’), to be truly connected with ourselves, with others, animals and with nature.
But we are not there yet; we are really in this no man’s land, this limbo.
Some of the symptoms of this transition are:
- High levels of stress and burn-out
- Feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and discontentment have increased
- 1% of the people own the wealth in the world
- Ten mega corporations control the output of almost everything you buy; from household products to pet food to jeans
- Crises in many areas (economic, financial, climate change, poverty) are not being solved
- Unemployment, especially for young people, is still increasing. Let’s consider a real job or a good job — the type of job the whole world wants — as at least 30 hours per week of consistent work with a paycheck from an employer. Based on this definition, 1.4 billion out of the world’s roughly 5 billion adults have a good job. So, who are the other 3.6 billion? About 1 billion people are self-employed; about 300 million work part time and do not want full-time work; about 400 million work part time but want full-time work; 260 million are unemployed; and the rest are out of the workforce. Not all of the self-employed are hopelessly unemployed, but we can conservatively estimate that at least half of them are. Those 500 million added to the 400 million part-time workers who want full-time work and the unemployed total roughly 1 billion people who are truly unemployed. That figure of about 1 billion, which is just shy of one-third of the entire world’s adult workforce of 3.3 billion, would put global unemployment closer to 33% than to the 5.6% that the ILO estimates.
- Huge distrust in governments and Corporations
- Education doesn’t meet the market’s needs
- Discrimination (gender, age, race) is still alive
“Transition gives friction”
These symptoms indicate that applying the old rules of the Industrial Age to the new game of the Connection Age is not working!
Therefor we need to create, learn and apply new rules for this new game. Instead of focusing on what doesn’t work anymore, we need to build new ways of learning, living and working, together.
So, how does this look? Here are some perspectives on the old and new paradigms of living and working.
LIVING, The Basics:
In the current society people are seen as customers only. The essential promise of a consumer society is that satisfaction can be purchased. People have taken their identity from their capacity to purchase. Dissatisfaction is promoted as the basis for higher levels of consumption and production. The environment, nature is also being used as something, which can be ‘consumed’ in the process. A top-down, broadcasting approach is applied in most sectors of society. People are treated as passive recipients. Countries and companies are the main powers.
In the new society, people are seen as citizens, who collectively share the ownership of the wellbeing of everyone and everything/being in society. Caring and sharing are the norm. Each citizen is valued for his/her specific strengths and is encouraged to play an active role. The environment, nature is treated as a living organism, which is essential for our wellbeing and survival. People are treated as active contributors. Communities, cities and cyberspace are the main powers. Here is an overview of the paradigm shift that is happening, both in living and in working.
|Paradigms – |
|Industrial Age||The New Renaissance|
|Education||The focus is on memorizing, passing tests and |
compliance. STEM is preferred.
|Lifelong learning is the norm. The focus is on developing |
talents. STEM + Humanities.
|Transport||The car is the standard, with a supporting infrastructure.||Public transport is the norm.|
|Healthcare||Focus on illnesses and treatments. The body is seen as |
separate from the mind.
|Focus on prevention. A holistic view on wellbeing is |
|Media||A top-down, broadcast approach. Limited access to |
|Social media is owned by the people and for the people.|
|Infrastructure||Politics and companies determine the availability.||Ownership is shared between all stakeholders.|
|Personal Development||Outside-in living, external locus of control (‘You’).|
|Inside – out living, internal locus of control (‘I’). Cherishing uniqueness.|
|Family||Marriage and children are the norm.||Cross generational support.|
|Friends||Focus on quantity.||Focus on quality.|
|Hobbies||Limited in time, place and activity. Skills-based.||A variety, which changes frequently. Experience based.|
|Home||Family-based, in suburbs. Predefined architecture.||Individual & community occupancy, in cities. Custom–built |
|Money||The main goal is to get as much as possible.||A means to an end. Wellbeing and happiness are the goals.|
|Relationship||Relations are standardized and commoditized.||Relations are valued and individualized.|
|Service||Volunteering is done after 5pm or retirement.||A social purpose is integrated in most activities.|
|Spiritual Development||A separate and private activity. Body-consciousness||A driving force in all activities. Soul-consciousness.|
|Food||Industrialized, globalized, non-organic, |
|Personalized, localized, organic, and sustainable.|
|Water||A limitless resource.||A limited, force of life.|
|Energy||Centrally provided. Fossil fuels–based.||De-centralized production of renewable energy.|
|Sport||For entertainment and for some people, a |
|An integral part of health and stress- management.|
WORKING, The Basics:
In the current economy, people are used, like cogs in a machine, which should also generate a ROI. The name ‘Human Resources’ illustrates this. The focus is on repetitive execution and implementation, while increasing efficiency and minimizing risks and faults. Zero-defects is the goal. Standardization (a ‘system of sameness’) is the main tool to accomplish this. The leaders determine what the employees should do. The creative powers of employees are not appreciated. The environment is utilized, like any other resource. Sustainability is hardly integrated in pricing and supply-chain policies.
The employees are either experts or managers., within a certain domain/silo. Careers are the norm, from the start until retirement.
The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity ~ Seth Godin
In the new economy, people are valued for their thinking powers and unique contributions. The name ‘Partners’ will be extended to all stakeholders, including (former) employees. The focus is on fulfilling the individual and collective purpose of the organization, while fully using the creativity and ingenuity of all people. A personalized approach (appreciating a ‘universe of uniqueness’) both towards people and processes is the norm. Failures are essential for learning. Experimenting (and thus failing) is the norm. Creativity and innovation are mainstream activities. The environment is a precious and a limited resource. Sustainability is fully integrated in all business practices.
The partners are experts, generalists and/or intrapreneurs, across all domains. Most work is project-based and has no geographical limitation.
|Paradigm – Working||Industrial Age||The New Renaissance|
|Purpose||To make as much profit as possible. Exploiting|
|There is meaning, a purpose in the organization and in the work itself. |
|Work Definition||Work is performance only; work equals doing.||Work is performance, learning and enjoyment; Work equals doing and |
|Position||Managers are more valuable than employees.||Everyone’s specialties and strengths are valuable.|
|Knowledge||Managers have more experience and knowhow than employees.||Applying knowledge is more important than position.|
|Management Style||Managers give commands to employeeson what, when and how to accomplish |
goals. Managers control employees.
|Managers coach their employees as and when asked for. Employees determine |
how they will reach their goals. Employees are given responsibility and trust.
|Employees||All employees have the same needs and behave in the same manner.||Employees have different needs, especially per generation.|
|Customers||Product out. Transaction focused.||Needs driven. Life time value.|
|Change||Managers determine what needs to be|
changed and drive change top down.
|There is a collective ownership and understanding of change.|
|Performance Measurement||Managers measure the performance of employees; focus is on weaknesses and presence.||Managers, team members and peers measure the performance of employees; |
focus is on strengths and merit.
|Rewards||People are only interested in their |
|Employees want more than a great salary. They are interested in meaning, less |
stress, and more decision-making authority.
|Metrics||Mainly financial; profit and |
|People, planet, profit and stakeholder value.|
|R&D||This is so crucial, that all has to be done in-house.||This critical activity needs external resources as well.|
|Culture||Everyone should behave in the same |
way according to the culture.
|There is respect for each other’s difference. Ethics is the cornerstone.|
|Hiring||People are hired, based upon past job |
experience and fit into current job description.
|People are hired, based upon organizational and personal match of |
mission/vision/values, what their passion and
potential is and
how they can contribute to organizational goals.
|Workplace||The standard workplace is defined by managers.||Employees define & design their own workplace|
|Working Hours||9-5, 40 hours per week, on-site.||Defined by employees, based upon goals achievement,on-site or remote.|
|Procedures||Procedures are mandatory.||There are clear ‘rules of engagement’; rule 1= use |
your common sense.
|Workload||You have to be busy continuously.||There is enough time for fun and relaxing, which |
generates new ideas as well.
|Training||There is limited room for professional development.||If people grow (professionally and personally), the |
|Promotion||You grow within a functional silo.||You grow based upon results and added value.|
|Job Titles||You work according to your job description.||You work according to your (various) roles and goals.|
|Information||Info is distributed according to your position.||Info is distributed according to your needs.|
|Retirement||After you are 65 years old.||When you want to use the funds.|
|Clothing||Your appearance should be in line with company rules.||Your appearance is in line with your personal |
The growth of the number of people in the world will mean that there are more people competing for fewer jobs (because of A.I., automation, robotization) leading to more (mental) health challenges, on a planet that has reached its resource-limits. Educating people for 40 years of having a job has become a flagrant illusion.
Jobs have reached their expiration date; we need another approach for (paid) work, sustainability, and for society itself.As the biologist E.O. Wilson has put it, we have stumbled into the 21st century with stone-age emotions, medieval institutions, and near godlike technologies.
We are not yet ready for the world we have made, as well as not ready for the new world that is emerging. The Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations) will be a vital opportunity to give ourselves new guideposts and measuring posts for prosperity, justice, and environmental safety in our fast-moving, rapidly changing, and uncertain world.
This new approach needs to address education, social insurance, income provision and meaningful alternatives.
Fitting in is no longer a recipe for a certain future; fitting in doesn’t help you anymore. Hopefully by now, you see the need to fly out.