Monday, August 16, 2010

THEME: Some Thoughts On Current and Emerging Trends

FOCUS: The Intersection of the iPad, Community, and Social Intelligence

Monday morning: August 16, 2010

Dear friends,

With the introduction of the iPad this year and it’s projected 2010 sales being close to 10 million, Steve Jobs noted earlier in the summer that a new iPad is bought at a global level every 3 seconds. With such rapid acceptance, we are witnessing an amazing transformation in technology. This in combination with Goggle’s decision to not utilize Windows due to on-going security problems means the way we work is changing faster than in the past. While I do not think it completely signals the decline of the PC market as Steve Jobs suggested might happen back in June at the D Conference, it clearly signals the start of a whole new way of thinking about the speed of acquisition and the utilization of technology.

First, we need to recognize that software and hardware are skipping past the lap top platform and moving straight to slate based computer systems and smart phones. With texting as the new e-mail system and social media like Facebook topping half a billion users this summer and becoming the new foundation for creating and maintaining relationships, we enter a world were fragmentation is no longer acceptable and seamless integration is the new goal.

It is interesting to note a generational difference rising in the midst of this transformation, particularly between Baby Boomers and Gen Y’s or Millennials. For Baby Boomers, the expectation is that when a light switch goes up, the electricity will always be on. For Gen Xers and Millenials, when a computer or cell phone is on, then the expectation is that there will be 100% connectivity to the internet. The internet is their new electricity.

For generations before the Baby Boomers, there was a gratefulness for just having electricity. For the Baby Boomers, there was an expectation that it should be on and perfect all the time. Now that the internet is the new electricity, the expectation is the same for younger generations. They have an expectation for “electricity level” connectivity and delivery of internet content, and they expect it to move as fast as an electric light switch when turned on.

There is another recent generational difference noted by British neuroscientist Susan Greenfield. We could potentially end up living in a two class society with mostly the younger generation being “the people of the screen” who quick skim and scan the web which lodges in the brian’s short-term memory and is quickly lost, and a mostly older generation who are “people of the book,” who through slow reading experiences generate long term memories. The result is a very different level of understanding and interacting with the world between the generations.

Yet in the midst of these differences and the ongoing desire for more speed and simplicity in technology plus the growth of digital life experiences, there continues to be a growing desire for more real and authentic sense of community. John Naisbitt in his books, Megatrends and Megatrends 2000, wrote that we enter a dualistic world of high tech and high touch. While I recognize that Facebook is being utilized by many if not most of the affluent people in society, the result of this choice is the development of some very unique relationships. For example, people on Facebook may have 1,000 “friends” but only know and communicate with a handful well on a face to face level. Some would argue that young people may not understand that real relationships are first built off-line before going on-line.

Furthermore, we now have entering and influencing the workforce a younger generation that knows how to connect electronically and at the same time chooses different pathways to building relationships than Baby Boomers. For example, it is recognized that most Millennials are good at working on teams and with teams, multi-tasking and utilizing technology to increase productivity. Still, we have to recognize that people who work on successful teams are born from a healthy work place community. And when a team completes it’s work, it, namely the members of the team, will return to the work place community. In short, the source of healthy teams can not be replaced by electronic apps on iPads, or digital, Facebook level only connections.

During the coming years, our work as senior executives will require us to invest in new technology and to learn to interface with the rapidly changing and accelerating global technology platform. Nevertheless as high tech speeds up, we must also come to value high touch, i.e. slower face to face connections that require a degree of social intelligence. In a world that can access more information faster than ever before, we are discovering that more and more people are connected and at the same time feeling disconnected. With so many families scattered across the nation and the globe, and so many traditional social networks like churches and civic groups struggling to maintain membership, we must come to recognize that the building of community within the work place is more important and valuable than ever.

This week understand that the pace of change will continue to accelerate, and that the need to build social intelligence will be as important as digital and technological intelligence.

Have a marvelous week,


P.S. For those of you who are looking for a good article, I suggest you read “Powerlessness Corrupts” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in the July-August 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review. This is a short but very thoughtful essay about how powerlessness, particularly in the middle ranks, can fuel resentment, infighting and intergroup conflicts over resources. If you are looking to find a thoughtful way to start a team meeting, this single page essay with good observations and perspective is a good place to begin.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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