Leadership and Technology: Some Remarks

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.

 

 

References

 

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

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2 thoughts on “Leadership and Technology: Some Remarks

  1. Hello Edletech,

    I enjoyed your final post and you make several good points. As Michele Martin (2015) shared in this week’s reading, good leaders have to be adaptable to changing situations and people’s different work styles. While I believe most of us strive to use the advice given by Martin (2015), it is difficult for even engaged and caring leaders to take the time to learn about the latest technologies when other issues need to be addressed or deadlines met. With time and the proper application of trust, a good leader or host can influence change and gain results from the team but like for most of my colleagues, time is a valuable commodity that is in short supply in our fast-paced and connected world. As I grow older, I do find myself attempting to learn more about advances in technology and I encourage my team members to do likewise and most of the time, members of my team come away from these learning experiences with a better perspective and commitment to our digital presence goals. As you suggested, perhaps we should be paying more attention to the ethics of AI and digital technology but my organization already has regulations, guidance, and recommendations that guide our use of social media and the internet for work. Do you have any suggestions into how we could do a better job of incorporating ethics training in regards to the internet when we are already suffering from information overload? Ben Hammer

    Reference:

    Martin, M. (2015, December). A deep dive into thinking about 21st century leadership. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.michelemmartin.com/thebambooprojectblog/2015/12/work-in-progress-the-leadership-lab.html

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  2. Just like you, I am also concerned about keeping abreast with the latest technology given the many things leaders have to accomplish today. My thinking is that leaders should have their IT or Digital technology departments deal with that, and once in a while, at management meetings, be invited to update the leadership on technology trends and possible technologies that the institution may find useful and effective in serving their clients in the future. As Tanmay Vora (2015) pointed out, “Trend Analysis” will be one of the sought after skills in the future. Those already in IT may be in a better position to do this. This will also influence the kind of persons employed in that department.

    It is excellent that your organization already has ethical recommendations, regulations and guidelines on the use of social media and digital technology. I believe these respond to many of the ethical questions concerning the use of digital technology like privacy, time management, responsible and appropriate use of social media and digital technology at the work-place, etc. These are contemporary ethical concerns. In future, in our quest to be efficient, will our organization find it ethical, in its regulations, guidelines and recommendations to empower AI with deciding on when a health emergency or family emergency is truly a health/family emergency and granting the permission to be absent from office? I think what your organization, like most of ours, may need to do is to ensure that the guidelines for the use of social media and digital technology are up-to-date with the ethical concerns of the day. These regulations and guidelines are some of the best educative tools for staff. In an organization I worked, periodically, one’s access to the Internet and website is restricted until you’ve done a short course on appropriate use of the Internet and attitudes in the work-place. These were both educative and helpful reminders. Also, they were not obstructive. In addition to the above, HR could organize workshops at intervals on relevant topics in the use of social media and digital technology for the interested or appropriate persons. Of course these will take time. But, if this is important, then something else may have to give way.

    Thanks again for your question.

    References

    Vora, T. (2015, August 31). Skills for future success in a disruptive world of work. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://qaspire.com/2015/08/31/skills-for-future-success-in-a-disruptive-world-of-work/

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