Q. Why do people scramble to answer the telephone?
A. Because their grandparents did.
Human behaviour always lags technology evolution. When our grandparents installed their home phones, a phone call was a very expensive form of communication, reserved for the weekly catch-up with distant relatives or for urgent and important notifications. So when the phone rang, you raced to answer it. It was important.
Contrast that with today. A phone call is practically free. If my experience is anything to go by, a call on the home phone (yes, still got one of those - giving away my age here!) is more likely to be a fortune-teller or independent financial advisor advertising their services than an important message from a friend.
The point is this: humans change their behaviour far more slowly than technology.
But this creates unintentional negative effects. Jumping up to answer the phone used to be important, even at meal times. Now, it’s probably more likely just to disrupt the flow of conversation and family connection.
I observe the same effect in the business world. Many people are “managing people like their grandfather did” in a digital world where the context has radically changed.
Digital leaders - those who thrive in the digital age - need to act very differently to get results in this new context.
There are at least five mega-trends at work here. Here are three of them, which will be enough for this short article.