“The future has an ancient heart” – attending HR Tech World San Francisco on 14-15 June 2017 brought this quote back to my mind as it perfectly describes my sentiment after listening to many speakers and participating in many conversations.

All the key learnings (as superbly summarized by David Green) lead to two main themes: The incredible speed and disruption through new technologies & the increased importance of people. At the show they were often discussed as two separate items when they are actually linked as Gary Vaynerchuk summarized so succinctly:

“It is insane to me, how excited I am about the future of the world because as technology commoditizes shit that doesn’t matter, all of us are going to be forced into the things that actually do matter: people!”.

I go even a step further: advances in technology (artificial intelligence, machine learning, VR, and robotics) will move control from organization to people. The organizations that don’t put people at their hearts, that don’t treat people like people, that don’t adopt a people to people approach, will be eradicated.

Work in progress

We already see this with the removal of the middlemen. We don’t want the shallow recruiters, travel agents, car salesman, religious preachers, partisan journalists and power hungry politicians…. They don’t add any value to our lives, they just make it harder to get what we want. Instead, we want direct access. We will make up our own minds. We want to talk to the decision makers, but we make our own decision. We want to interact with people who already had the experience or are at least open to exploring new frontiers. We don’t want people who pretend to know, we want true experts. We don’t want people who tell us what is good for us when we clearly see that they are only working for their own benefit. We don’t want to be segmented into B2C, B2B, B2E, we are all of this and much much more. We move from “human beings” to “human becomings.” We don’t want people who talk authenticity, we want people who are authentic, like Gary V.

This is happening already, slowly but surely and it will speed up with the ever increasing speed of adoption of new technologies.

The speed of adoption and acceptance

The question isn’t “if” but “when”. Evangelists like Peter Hinssen and Vivek Wadhwa expect radical change imminently, impacting everything (institutions, societies, education) with the outcome – hopefully – positive for everybody involved (cleaner energy, more creativity, better health) but potentially also destructive (no jobs, unfit politicians). On the other hand, you have people like Gary Vaynerchuk who said: “Everything we think will happen in the next two years, normally takes 10-15 years.”, but appreciate that the changes are happening and are riding its wave.

Let’s adjust our minds, our modus operandi, our systems, and philosophies to open the gateways for change, push fast through the pain barrier, whilst ensuring we increase the health of society and the planet. That would be the easy version but it requires us to move from privilege to freedom, but as we have experienced with social media, the middle management hates to give up control and will try everything to suppress change, even if it would make the whole better. It is the battle of the way we used to do things with reimagining the world. As Hinssen said: “I am not sure that our political class is equipped to deal with what is coming.” He is right, but not for long,  as no sector, no part our lives will stay untouched by the significant changes that are upon us.

The disruption of everything

The disruption of politics is on its way with people demanding to go back to democracy as it was first intended and described by Maximilien Robespierre in 1794: “Democracy is a State in which the sovereign people, guided by laws that are of its making, acts for itself whenever possible, and through its delegates when it cannot act for itself.”

Our printing press will be blockchain. But one thing is for sure, the political middlemen aka representative democracy as we know it will be disrupted and changed beyond recognition. The faster we can tackle this, the better. It is like taking off a band-aid.

“The future has an ancient heart” – people once again become more important than things. What we now need to realize and grasp firmly with both hands is the shift in power to us ‘normal’ people and the responsibility that comes with it. Let’s not waste this opportunity.

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