Weird year, no?
Weirdest I can remember.
Lots of creepy stuff erupted from America’s collective unconscious and danced that mess around.
Mass murder. Racism. Nazis.
Then there were the hurricanes (climate change anyone?), and, of course, sexual harassment and the #MeToo tide.
Women were not surprised. I haven’t spoken yet to one who was. Men shouldn’t have been. We’ve heard stories all our lives; hell, we’ve heard ourselves talk. But nonetheless men are mortified, terrified and petrified.
As well they might be.
Meanwhile, in business, retail took it on the chin. Along with all the bankruptcies (RadioShack, Payless, Toys R Us), Credit Suisse predicts that a quarter of all U.S. malls will close by 2022. So long Sears. Nice knowing you Macy’s (loved your windows at Christmastime). Blame it on evolution, Amazon and the internet. Or, call it progress. Still, that’s a lot of jobs going poof. Is this retail apocalypse a harbinger of worse? Will it spread to other sectors?
And what about cybersecurity? 2017 saw Britain’s National Health Service grind to a halt for want of a patch. Did you freeze your credit because of the Equifax hack? (I did.) Uber revealed it paid blackmail to get back the personal identifiable information of, oh, about 57 million passengers and drivers. (Uber got away cheap for a mere $100,000, but its reputation… well, it wasn’t so good before that, was it?) Not to mention that the National Security Agency was breached by some spooky outfit called the Shadow Brokers, and all the NSA’s super-secret spy stuff is now in the hands of… anyone with a browser and a Bitcoin. Leaving us to ask: Who secures the security folk?
As 2017 slithers to the finish line, there are some obvious chunks of our lives hollering out for thought leadership – white space in our society and brains, if you like. Let’s hope to see some productive thinking about:
- Sex in the workplace. It’s not a giggle anymore. Of course, for many women, it never was. Training (a bag of bagels, coffee, and some slides) doesn’t work, obviously. What will?
- Cybersecurity. Things are getting worse, not better. An expert I know suggested to me that networks are obsolete, and we need to get rid of them – all of them. How will that work? Mostly, the security articles I’ve read boil down to training people not to click on stuff, and then having a plan for what to do when they do. Because they will. Because (have I mentioned this?) training doesn’t work very well.
- Autonomy and artificial intelligence. How will you like it when the Amazon drone coming to deliver your new flannel nightie blows your head off when you open the door because it’s been hacked by your neighbor who’s had it with your dog pooping on his lawn? You know it’s coming. The technologies – AI, GPS (which is getting ever more precise), facial recognition – are all in place. Someone just needs to put them together to make a killer robot that will be very difficult to stop. Of course, someone probably already has. They’re just being quiet about it. How about some thought leadership on rules and regulations for autonomous, AI-powered, mobile thingies? I think we need them, don’t you?
- Gen Z. They’ve grown up staring at their phones; their phones give them the answers to everything; they use them to text and share images and memes, not talk. Consequently, they don’t communicate like their elders. Not at all. Because there are a lot of them, and they will be entering the workforce en masse (as the Boomers bid bye-bye), businesses will have to accommodate their singular psyches and modes of learning, communication and behavior. Isn’t it time to figure out how they think? I do.
- Change. Thought leaders have been talking about how to manage change ever since the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to manage it (which suggests that change comes from the top – an industrial way of thinking) and start thinking about how to get out of the way to set it free. And I doubt that training mid-level people to manage it will work because, as I may have mentioned…
There are more white spaces to talk about, but I need to answer the door now. Its sensor pinged my phone and looking through the window I see something hovering outside.
Did I pick up after Rover?