We did it!

The Federal Republic of Germany once again has a stable government. Many German folk songs and poems talk about how “Everything is new in May” or that “Spring dreams come true”, describing a spirit of optimism and fitting in perfectly in the age of digitisation. Oh, not again, some people will say, but I can’t resist having some afterthoughts with a twinkle in my eye.

There is now a Minister for digitisation and a female one, at that – hurray, the quota for women has been met right away! As Germany is still part of the digital everyday life of the Middle Ages (and not only because of the lengthy coalition talks), the new Minister wants to get to grips with that problem right away. According to the Minister, a group of young advisers will inform her about new and innovative approaches and try to break new ground. “Young people often see the future in digitisation sooner than adults”, the Minister has declared. So, do the “digital natives” really have the digital strategy and vision? The “digital immigrants” are only adults anyway. Applause all round and everyone is happy. Really?

I find the latest developments of genuinely innovative companies much more interesting, the companies that have been leading our (European) economy for years and may also be based in Germany. Many of the industries of the past are rapidly changing from head to toe, to become, in the symbolic sense, technology companies. They position so-called CDOs - Chief Digital Officers - (adults with experience), establish innovation teams with operational goals from/to the core industry and thereby allow creativity and agile patterns of thought to flourish. They form “Digital Camps” or even create new sections of the company, purely for the demand to efficiently digitise their operative success. These examples have two things in common: firstly, the fun factor of digital change and secondly, that the experienced strategists and young savages are judged together on their successes. “We need a digital culture in companies”, predict lots of experts. This will be urgently needed to nip lobbying, moaning, fear or digital fragmentation in the bud. Who hasn’t come across examples of this in everyday life? 

We should not pretend that it’s only the older ones that learn things from the younger people, but rather redefine the culture of values with digital challenges and changes. Also, because we have to get used to lifetime learning. The “basic training” in school and at work is only the beginning of a social learning loop called “the digital everyday life”. The German government’s spirit of optimism has arrived far too late - see Latvia and others - but we will get there in the end. Right now, we simply need the digital instructions for action that will serve people in the long term (from the German government). Or simply from robot to human, ha ha!? 

“This all happens under one sky - in the same city - under one roof - in each of us”. A line from a chart hit from 2018 that is actually about love, but one that fits just as well with digitisation, I believe. Whether young or old, whether out of passion or experience. Love, eh - anyone can do digitisation!  

Your caught in the (love) frenzy of digitisation,

(still learning) Digital Immigrant,

Steffen Schaar