Digital is about self-expression

It is fair to say that I’m truly captivated with the way the world is changing so dramatically, in every way. We were all so used to the 20th century environment which was commonly referred to as the industrial revolution, whereas now we are having to get our heads around the changes in the new 21st century, most recently referred to as the digital age.

I read recently that it takes between 15-20 years to move into the next revolution once one has ended. This means when the internet was born and mobile phones became apart of every day life – we were in a state of limbo, but now we are finally at the starting line of the new digital revolution.

When we look back at business systems from the 20th century and wonder how they coped without email, or mobile technology, and we criticise the processes that were designed to limit creativity and encourage subservience to the quality controller, or outdated autocratic manager. So when did we begin to think outside this big business process?

When did we decide to build businesses in our garages that took the personal computer into the homes of every day people? Why did a few of us feel that rebellion over “the man” was more important than just fitting in? I’m sure you have your answers, maybe early 90’s, 80’s even as far back as the early 70’s.

Those questions however are really only to set the scene that a few people decided to think outside the square, go against the grain and they changed an entire revolution. I’m not just talking about technology changes. I am talking about anyone who chose to shake up the way business was designed in the early 1900’s, when the industrial revolution was born, and modern-day management practice became essential. The ones that chose to rebel, because to them, it didn’t allow for enough self-expression.

That’s what this new revolution is about, isn’t it, self-expression? Customers now dictate the user experience, employees dictate one way or another the environment they thrive in, and age is no longer the yard-stick for experience, it seems that imagination, (or self-expression) is.

Where the industrial revolution was about designing process to generate efficiency and mass production, the digital revolution is about designing experiences, that create connection between people and products. The beauty of the digital revolution is, that it is not just big business responsible for the design, this time it is everyone.

Of course that is a challenge for Governments, and the big corporations who found it easier to create policy and make money when everyone wasn’t involved in the design.

The fact is we are here now, and we need to identify how we work together.

Big business can no longer dictate to customers, or even their own staff. They must learn to encourage creativity and self-expression in everything, from; organisational structure, operational process, and project management practices, through to design and delivery of new products and communication, to, and from customers.

Equally, Governments must learn to work with business and the public, to define how policy and governing principles can be designed to be transparent and agile enough, to cope with regular change.

The key difference between the old revolution and the new one, is that there is no “best practice” to strive for. Everything is always changing and will be for the foreseeable future. This we know, because of the rapid advancement in technology which has removed the barriers to ensure everyone has the opportunity to shape how we exist in this new world.