Community//

What is happening in society that impacts me?

From Fitting in to Flying Out (2 of 8)

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 – 
Living
Industrial AgeThe 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.
TransportThe car is the standard, with a supporting infrastructure.Public transport is the norm. 
HealthcareFocus on illnesses and treatments. The body is seen as
separate from the mind.
Focus on prevention. A holistic view on wellbeing is
exercised. 
MediaA top-down, broadcast approach. Limited access to
content. 
Social media is owned by the people and for the people.
InfrastructurePolitics and companies determine the availability. Ownership is shared between all stakeholders.
Personal DevelopmentOutside-in living, external locus of control (‘You’).
Meeting expectations. 
Inside – out living, internal locus of control (‘I’). Cherishing uniqueness. 
AppearanceConformityPersonality
FamilyMarriage and children are the norm. Cross generational support. 
FriendsFocus on quantity.Focus on quality. 
HobbiesLimited in time, place and activity. Skills-based.   A variety, which changes frequently. Experience based.
HomeFamily-based, in suburbs. Predefined architecture.Individual & community occupancy, in cities. Custom–built
and adaptable.
MoneyThe main goal is to get as much as possible.A means to an end. Wellbeing and happiness are the goals.
RelationshipRelations are standardized and commoditized. Relations are valued and individualized.
ServiceVolunteering is done after 5pm or retirement. A social purpose is integrated in most activities.
Spiritual DevelopmentA separate and private activity. Body-consciousness A driving force in all activities. Soul-consciousness.
FoodIndustrialized, globalized, non-organic,
non-sustainable.  
Personalized, localized, organic, and sustainable.
WaterA limitless resource.A limited, force of life.
EnergyCentrally provided. Fossil fuels–based.De-centralized production of renewable energy.
 SportFor entertainment and for some people, a
health/relaxation activity
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 – WorkingIndustrial AgeThe New Renaissance
PurposeTo make as much profit as possible. Exploiting
scarcity.
There is meaning, a purpose in the organization and in the work itself. 
Sharing abundance. 
Work DefinitionWork is performance only; work equals doing.Work is performance, learning and enjoyment; Work equals doing and
being. 
PositionManagers are more valuable than employees.Everyone’s specialties and strengths are valuable. 
KnowledgeManagers have more experience and knowhow than employees. Applying knowledge is more important than position.
Management StyleManagers 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.
EmployeesAll employees have the same needs and behave in the same manner. Employees have different needs, especially per generation. 
CustomersProduct out. Transaction focused.Needs driven. Life time value.
ChangeManagers determine what needs to be
changed and drive change top down. 
There is a collective ownership and understanding of change. 
Performance MeasurementManagers 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. 
RewardsPeople are only interested in their
salary. 
Employees want more than a great salary.  They are interested in meaning, less
stress, and more decision-making authority.
MetricsMainly financial; profit and
shareholder value.
People, planet, profit and stakeholder value.
R&DThis is so crucial, that all has to be done in-house.This critical activity needs external resources as well.
CultureEveryone should behave in the same
way according to the culture. 
There is respect for each other’s difference. Ethics is the cornerstone.
HiringPeople 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.
WorkplaceThe standard workplace is defined by managers. Employees define &  design their own workplace
Working Hours9-5, 40 hours per week, on-site.Defined by employees, based upon goals achievement,on-site or remote.
ProceduresProcedures are mandatory.There are clear ‘rules of engagement’; rule 1= use
your common sense.
WorkloadYou have to be busy continuously.There is enough time for fun and relaxing, which
generates new ideas as well.
TrainingThere is limited room for professional development.If people grow (professionally and personally), the
business grows.
PromotionYou grow within a functional silo.You grow based upon results and added value.
Job TitlesYou work according to your job description.You work according to your (various) roles and goals.
InformationInfo is distributed according to your position.Info is distributed according to your needs.
RetirementAfter you are 65 years old. When you want to use the funds.
ClothingYour appearance should be in line with company rules.Your appearance is in line with your personal
preferences. 

Conclusion 

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.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Toxicity in the Digital Age

by Dr. Steven Cangiano
Community//

The Modern Day Fountain of Youth: One Scientist’s Quest to Tackle Aging

by Tiffany Yu

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.