John Naisbitt, the preeminent social forecaster of our time and author of the # 1 New York Times bestseller Megatrends, noted in 1999 that as society becomes increasingly digital we will enter a “Technologically Intoxicated Zone.” As he writes, “This zone is a confusing and distracted state where we both fear and worship technology, where we see technologies as toys and quick-fixes, and where we become obsessed with what is "real" and what is "fake"--from the violent games children play to genetically-engineered animals to whether one can claim to have scaled Everest if supplemental oxygen was used.” One solution to this situation is for there to be an increased “high touch” element that is not lost in society. This is not just on the physical level as much as the human interaction level.
Reflecting on his comments 12+ years later, I realize that more and more companies, customers and senior executives are in the “Technologically Intoxicated Zone” where they fear and worship the speed of technology and technological change. What intrigues me this morning is the power of the high touch element that is to balance this high tech transformation.
More and more, I observe and listen to successful executives who report to me and recognize the importance of relationship management inside and outside of the work place. Sharing a meal, visiting about a favorite book or article, taking time to get to know and learn more about the people they work with is a process that generates clarity, understanding and capacity at a whole new level. This high touch element is more important than the traditional networking process, which often means knowing a million people one inch deep. In the world of philanthropic work, this kind of work is called “friend raising.” I like to see it as the building of a foundation where we develop a relationship that is meaningful and deep.
The key for me this morning and this week is to encourage more people to proactively engage in relationship management, and to be more involved in friend raising activities. This will bring balance to a work that is intoxicated with technology.