While the world of Technology has filled the world with tools of productivity and connection, it has its drawbacks. Many people today suffer from the shadow side of technology.
Droves of burned out screen-addicted zombies sign up for Digital Detox weekends. Families schedule a family night without cellphones at the table once a week or only allow their preschoolers to play games after reading. As well, technology has imploded many of the societal norms we once held sacred: look how online dating has disrupted generations of courtships rituals, for example.
Indeed, with culture moving at the speed of a Tweet or a Pin, it’s hard to make sense of it how it all either enhances or distracts from life. Even more perplexing, the lines between our digital lives and non-digital lives blur in so many ways that the fabric of a contemporary life has some pixels, code, cloud uploads, profiles, and updates woven into the overall tapestry.
This week I presented to a room filled with CIOs and IT directors. It was unusual for them to hear about Innovation, as the subject is often heard only by those in Strategy, Marketing, Product Management, or RND.
And yet, it was the right audience. Given the way they work, they were familiar with many typical aspects of innovation. They work in rapid, iterative cycles in Agile development, began user-centered design with personas for software creation, etc.
In many ways Technology was the fulfillment of the Industrial Revolution, making us more efficient and accountable, ensuring we are all billable and productive. Unknowingly, the rush to digital the world of business and culture at large has ushered in a new era: the post-industrial world.
After we mapped the world, shared it online, digitized the office, and reached Big Data’s dream of optimizing supply chains and accounting for operational excellence, a new hope is realized. Technology is here to serve people, not the other way around. Computers and devices that once seemed so monolithic now empower our species to think about our role in a more noble purpose than the Industrial Revolution’s primary objective: the profit motive.
Now, we see how we can positively impact education, the environment, healthcare, and other systems in need of redemption using the these tools. In other words, we are seeing the rise of the human-to-human era where empathy trumps power and a win-win relationship between organizations and people is a preferred outcome to a monopoly.
The most interesting aspect of this human-centered movement is to see technology companies embed innovation practices into their cultures and to see such empathy-based methods as Design Thinking, mindfulness programs, or generative frameworks like Growth Mindset Training be integral to leadership training as such companies as Microsoft, Intel, GE, IBM, aspects of Google, and even at companies such as Citrix.
They know the world has changed and they need to transform and pivot to remain not only relevant, but vital in the human-to-human era. The companies that innovative themselves will innovate the world.
Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.