By Sebastian Thielke May 6, 2015

A rift is either the fault created though tectonic plates or by erosion during the ice-age, or it has artificially been dug out by humans. But by nature it is always the degree of rejection between two connections – the two sides of the rift. What used to be one is being separated by the rift. We are creating more and more of these rifts in the digital transformation, in handling new technologies, and in recreating the workplace. But we, as the drivers and designers of the transformation hold the shovels, earth and materials to fill in the rift and to bring the separated on the same level again. Essentially this means: We have to show that technics and technology cannot be without culture, behavior and people, and vice versa. It’s also about filling up the rifts in the mindset.

Trench fights

It’s always surprising how quickly technology can take hold, and how little heed is being paid to the people who are expected to use and utilize it. Especially in these times of departure, statements like “Digital transformation is unstoppable” and “Whoever doesn’t recognize the value added by the digital will be left behind and lose” are being heard. But it is striking how much has been lost already – the peoples’ ability to embrace “the new” digital, to know, use and apply it. Obviously technology is always ahead of the application, and it is obviously always easier to point the finger towards technology and to say: It will manage. But the point that is being missed is that the people have to be able to develop alongside technology; that they have to learn how, why and when it will work for them. We can digitally transform our corporations as much as we like, but if this realization cannot be applied, then nothing more than automation will result from it. How should customer-facing employees recognize that the linking of data and their realizations would lead to extension and the results of Big Data analyses, unless they have the awareness of this linkage? How should employees recognize that corporate networking and their own knowledge is comprehensive added value, if they don’t know what, how and why this applies to parts of knowledge?

Digital Non-education and false Naivety We are creating our rifts on different levels. We create them in our companies through Silos and we create them through classical classification methods. A current example is the recurring debate about Generation Y and Z – the youth of our times and the coming years. There seems to be a basic assumption that whoever grows up in a digital-laden society and working environment is a so-called “Digital Native”. Meanwhile studies, interviews and experiences show that this is not all that clear. Just because today’s youth is growing up with Smartphones, social networks and other digital elements doesn’t mean they know how to master these. In this conjunction the mastering is to be seen synonymous with Knowing, Handling and Abstraction or Projection. Questions like: “Are today’s youth digital natives?” illustrate that perception and assumption do not match. Though youths grow up with the digital, they do not manage it as it assumed. There is a lack of digital education. On the contrary we notice that this generation has a higher level of abstraction and projection in regards to implementing possibilities of the digital in companies and organizations with more experience and working hours. It almost seems like that the cognition about pros and profits are much better understood when in service, than with the digital natives. Thus experience and capabilities make adaptation and integration more probable.

Resource – Human vs. Digital Therefore we have to fill several rifts:

  • Education and Adaptation
  • Competence and Ability
  • Culture and Technology

Especially in connection with the rapid development education, learning and the empowerment of the people shouldn’t be lagging behind the digital. We as participators and accelerators should rather create the connections. Instead of implementing the digital, and then enabling the people for it afterwards, we should bring people and the digital together and make the connections clear. We have to stop separating the changes by digging deeper. Essentially this means that we humans have to demonstrate how it works, what the advantages are, and how to manage it. Digital Transformation thereby also means educating, enabling and accelerating the people without the usual trenches.

About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant Digital Transformation
Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 - Strategy Development, Enablement, Communications and Value added with the main focus on: People form the company.

Follow me