In the past 7 weeks, we have explored the import of the emergence of the Internet and the digital revolution on life, work and leadership. The impact has been much and has surpassed the expectation of everyone who thought about it some thirty years ago when the Internet and the digital technology where emerging into the main stream. An analysis of the impact of the digital technology on life, work and leadership shows an immensity of impact that is often so rapid in its changes that it is difficult to catch up with. In spite of the rapidity of changes brought about by the digital technology and the Internet, throughout this program, we have explored the import and impacts of these changes and tried to identify the best responses of leadership to this trend, which has come to stay.
The opportunities that the digital technology has given rise to is much already. The prospects are phenomenal still. It has led to easy access to information and knowledge. Communication is faster, cheaper and easier. Knowledge, information and expertise has been more democratized than ever before. Access to information and the network of people has continued to encourage rapid development in various fields of knowledge. However, the digital technology and Internet revolution have also given room to several concerns. Some of these challenges include Richard Florida’s (2005) argument that it is encouraging a lot of economic disparities. And Nick Bostrom’s (2015) cautions to us against allowing the digital revolution to continue without guiding and humanizing it. Furthermore, Job security is a great concern in the face of digital revolution: what happens when most of the white and blue collar jobs are automated (Smith and Anderson, 2014)?
Digital technology has come to stay. The changes it breeds will continue to be faster than the capacity of many persons to catch up with in the foreseeable future. It is unhealthy for us as humans to allow this behemoth to continue on its own without any guide. There is need to shape the direction this trend is going by injecting ethical concerns in the debate. There is an urgent need to humanize this development and avoid creating a technology that will be anti human (Bostrom, 2015; Leonhard, 2014). Our laws need to be robust enough to guide this technology in ways that are ethically acceptable: Do not cause harm or destroy lives. We need to develop our education in such a way that ensures that our mentality towards education changes to be aligned with the digital age. In the digital age, education is a process since as Kevin Kelly pointed out, one of the trends of technology is “Becoming” (Schmitt, n.d.). More than ever before, leaders have to lead a learning organization. Harold Jarche’s (2014) concept of social learning is instructive for leaders in the digital technology and Internet age. This attitude needs to be inculcated very early for us to have workers who will be able to work in this world of rapidly changing digital technology. A world where workers will be more ready to learn and adapt to shifting and more effective technologies. With such a mindset, the challenge institutions have with buy-ins from their staff in the face of changing technologies may be reduced. Second, education needs to equip students and all those who lack it, the capacity to analyze the authenticity of information they receive (Weinberger, 2011). For, more and more, the question is not about how to access information because information will keep abounding and becoming more readily available as the consciousness on the need to remove obstacles that hinder access to information and knowledge continues to grow. The question, rather, will be how to identify authentic, credible, and qualitative information we need, and the skill to use those information to achieve the end we desire, or to innovatively use such information. These require critical thinking skills.
At the end of this course, I take away some insights that I will apply in my leadership moving forward. First, the need to take the digital revolution more seriously than ever before. This is because this trend is defining every field of human endeavor, including education. Familiarity with digital technology will definitely help in the quest to make knowledge more accessible to all even at reduced costs. Second, digital technology and Internet highlights the importance of on-going learning (both through formal and informal means). Third, the need to take the ethical questions raised by the digital revolution seriously. Fourth, the realization that leadership in the digital and Internet age requires capacity to collaborate with others. Leaders are collaborators who are able to encourage and moderate relevant conversations.
Bostrom, N. (2015, March). TED: What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_bostrom_what_happens_when_our_computers_get _smarter_than_we_are
Florida, R. (2005). The world is spiky: Globalization has changed the economic playing field, but hasn’t leveled it. Atlantic Monthly, 296(3), 48.
Jarche, H. (2010, February 24). A framework for social learning in the enterprise. Harold Jarche. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2010/02/a-framework-for-social-learning-in-the-enterprise/
Leonhard, G. (2014, December 6). Digital ethics and the future of humans in a connected world. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZn0IfOb61U&feature=youtu.be
Schmitt, L. (n.d.). Short take – The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. Retrieved from http://www.theinovogroup.com/the-inevitable-understanding-the-12-technological-forces-that-will-shape-our-future/
Smith A., & Anderson J. (2014, August 6). A1, robotics, and the future of jobs. PewResearchCenter: Internet, Science and Tech. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs/
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now tht the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com