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Not so long ago I had a debate about the accelerated digitalization we see around us. Many industries have been disrupted. People ignite revolutions with a simple message. The new president of the US rules on twitter. There are fears of massive job losses due to robotization. Everything changes. And yet everything stays the same.

Humanity does not change.

Yes. We are using different tools and technology. And indeed, we are adopting (and abandoning) these tools faster than ever. But does it change us? Do we change as a species? We still have the need to be competent, connected, autonomous, integrated, loved.
Yes. If you look at it on that macro-level, you are right. That’s the answer that I got.Human emotions are at the heart of society, organizations and families. They steer our behaviour. And so even when we use digital tools, we are still driven by the same emotions as our distant ancestors who used silex tools.
I’m not here to minimize the power of digital. It changes our society. It makes and breaks reputations. It amplifies the voice of the weak (and of the powerful). But it does not change humanity. We still adore emperors. We covet and crave. We are desperate for attention, in need for warmth. We stay human, after all.
In the turbulence of this VUCA-world we need to adapt. Agility is the key-word. But what’s new. Maybe we have lost our resilience and flexibility as we in Europe have been living in relative peace and stability since the second world war ended. Wars were distant conflicts that were not relevant. But today wars are back. There is terrorism. And there is the disrupting power of digitalization.

We Will Adapt

We will adapt. We need to adapt. Some people see digitalization as a threat. But let’s not compare the coming of the digital as a threat, like the climate change. We might be too late to stop the devastating effects of climate change. But we can shape the digital change. Like any disruption, digitalization offers both opportunities and threats. We need to consider both ends of the continuum simultaneously and exploit the opportunities and cope with the threats. Digitalization can have a positive impact on the ecological footprint, can lead to market efficiency, can create jobs and can give unseen power to people who are less fortunate.
We will adapt. But we will not change fundamentally. But in all the turmoil, we need to stay human. The more digitalization advances, the more we will need humanity. The challenge is not technological. The challenge is human.
See also

David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith. As a former HR and business leader he focuses now on humanising strategy execution.

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