While building the knowledge society, we realized that the human element is the most important component, which means we need a new kind of leadership. We have already begun.
The question I ask myself is:
What is the responsibility of the individual, the “knowing agent?”
My daughter had a birthday recently, and she invited us to a cozy Austrian restaurant. We celebrated with family and friends.
She works with a lot of passion in an innovative environment. We taught her to take responsibility and have the courage to be brave. Hard work has always been self-explanatory.
As a father, I am very proud of my child, but that evening I was also very sad. She seemed happy, but she looked tired and tense. Two spirits fought in me: the executive who understood the hard way up and the father who wanted to protect his exhausted child.
I felt bad, as if I had missed something essential in my child’s upbringing. Success – yes – but at what price?
The “human element”, my daughter, was exhausted and I did not like that. I had the feeling that my baby is being used and that she simply accepts it as given.
That evening, I was feeling an emotional response to something that I had already known intellectually for a long time.
Today’s young generation was brought up by parents who served a hierarchy-based system. The limits have always been defined as top-down. You knew how it’s done.
The knowledge society, however, is formed by knowing individuals bottom up. A knowledge society can only work if one bears the responsibility for oneself.
The company is responsible for profit, the church – for God, and the state – for order. These constructs are not necessarily based on knowledge, but primarily on hierarchies and dogmata. Knowledge knows no boundaries nor hierarchies, so a knowledge-based society cannot handle them well.
The fantastic possibilities of the knowledge society are associated with the risk that individuals forget themselves in their quest for more knowledge, more skill, and more recognition.
This young generation hasn’t been prepared to be the most relevant resource of the society. It hasn’t been prepared to determine and shape the system and its limits by itself. It may have been prepared that its responsibility is lifelong learning. But it hasn’t been prepared to design something that humanity has never seen before and therefore hasn´t been prepared to protect and regenerate itself as THE most important resource.
The education of yesterday never seems to fit with the tasks of today. In management, this has already been well recognized. In education, we are at least one generation behind. This seems to be a human trauma.
But in the knowledge society, parents also learn new things, and it is never too late to do the right thing. I called my daughter the next day and said:
Child, no one can tell you where the limits lie. They depend on you. It is not the task of the system to take care of you.
YOU design this system. YOU have to set the limits.
Respect YOURSELF first and foremost!