The 5th revolution is about trust and ethics

And that is how we roll into the 5th revolution in one swoop. Whereas the 4th was mainly about the rise of technology, the Internet and the world that became flat, the 5th revolution will be mainly about trust. Ethics and humanity are at the heart of this. In January 2019 during the WEF in Davos, this was already a major theme. It is about us, in all our diversity, it is about our planet and about our ethical values and norms. Especially after the rise of technology, where we would lose to robots in the worst-case scenario. I think that COVID-19 has once again made us realise very clearly what our human values are, both positive and negative. And what we value as a society. Think of the vital professions, the role of democracy, inclusiveness in society and the fact that we are globally connected.

In an article in the Harvard Business review, I read about the mid-life crisis we are facing as managers. The old theories no longer work, and the new ones do not yet exist. But what Professor Gianpiero Petriglieri says is: ‘We need a truly human management, one that makes room for our bodies and spirits alongside our intellect and skills. That cares for what work does and feels and means to us, not just for what we can do at work and how.  Because we can also leave much of our intellect and skills to technology.  And he concludes: ‘If efficiency is the aim of instrumentalism, freedom is the aim of existentialism. Deepening our humanity, in business, politics, and every other field, requires an equal devotion to both. The day that freedom is as central as efficiency to its practice, we might declare management dead and welcome it to a new life. Please read the whole article if you are interested in management theory and the time in which we live now.

The human part of organisations is almost always left to HR or related functions. And once that subject has been discussed, we move on to the business! As if they exist separately. The capital of organisations is people and technology. I have been advocating for a long time that the HR and IT director determine the company’s strategy. In my opinion, the time when the CFO or CRO are in charge is over. How do we want to achieve success? How do we want to keep our customers satisfied? Not by becoming even more efficient, but by making maximum use of the potential of our organisations. And let that potential now mainly consist of your people and your technology. But there is also the question: do you dare to tell your shareholders that you are going to do things differently? Probably with the same results, but with a different approach that we do not know from management theories?

As early as 2019, there was a plea for a Chief etchical and humane use officer in companies. This role on the board ensures that you make precisely that connection between people and technology and that you act on the basis of ethical values as a company. I think that the urgency for this is now higher than ever. And not just as a picture for the outside world and the image, but sincerely and with clear objectives that are on the board’s agenda on a weekly basis. Please also read this article from Davos in January 2019.

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