The pandemic seems to give us a summer break. A good time to ask what has actually become of the digitization euphoria at the beginning of the pandemic?
In the course of my current research, I have (re)read many comments, articles and contributions about the infamous digital transformation. Let’s recapitulate: social media celebrated the virus as the new CIO, new work pundits declared the home office the new normal and some even saw a new New Age of New Work dawning.
Sorry for party pooping – but a look behind the scenes leads me to believe the exact opposite. I don’t think that the majority of us have yet understood what digital transformation means for the future (the mass rollout of MS Teams has little to do with it). While digitization ends both the spatial and temporal limitations of work, HR still wants to control where and when work is happening. Even though digitalization increasingly blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, the usual corporate suspects still invest lots of energy in closing themselves off to protect their accomplishments. And management still believes they can control uncertain outcomes with outdated KPIs – despite the VUCA crash course they all had in the last year.
Digital leadership is the new deck name to supposedly steer sovereignly into the future (inside you find little new though). Instead of leaping forward, I have the impression that the self-acclaimed digital leaders use the celebrated digital tools to roll back to “good-ol’ taylored” efficiency, where Bottom does what Top thinks. That is as far as we can get from New York (RIP Frithjof). I am afraid that Upton Sinclair was right:” It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”