women chiefs of enterprise international conference 2013

WOMEN CHIEFS OF ENTERPRISE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE – NOOSA, 7TH SEPTEMBER 2013

THE TIPPING POINT

THANKYOU FOR INVITING ME TO SPEAK

I’M NOT SURE THIS IS WHAT YOU EXPECTED AS I DON’T ANALYSE SOCIAL MEDIA FROM THE MARKETING POINT OF VIEW – BUT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE WAY IN WHICH OUR LIVES ARE BEING CHANGED AS A RESULT OF THE NETWORKED SOCIETY.

THE ECONOMY, THE SOCIETY, THE EDUCATION SYSTEM AND INDIVIDUALS THEMSELVES ARE ALL BEING FUNDAMENTALLY CHALLENGED BY THE UBIQUITOUS INTERNET AND ITS NETWORKS.

SUCH MASSIVE CULTURAL CHANGES HAVE OCCURRED BEFORE. MOST RECENTLY WITH THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION; IT NOT ONLY DRAMATICALLY CHANGED THE NATURE OF WORK – FROM FIELD TO FACTORY – BUT CHANGED FOREVER THE WAY PEOPLE LIVED (FROM VILLAGE TO CITY ETC  – REGULATED HOURS, WORKERS AND BOSSES  – AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH FROM LAND TO GOODS!).

AND IT CHANGED THE WAY THEY THOUGHT ABOUT THEMSELVES. AND THEIR LIVES. WHEN THEY WORKED IN THE FIELDS FROM  DAWN TO DUSK – THERE WAS LITTLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORK AND LIFE; THEY WERE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THING.

IT WAS THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION THAT DIVIDED THEM

THERE WERE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN GENDER RELATIONSHIPS: AS WOMEN AND MEN MOVED FROM WORKING IN THE FIELDS A POWER DIFFERENCE WAS CREATED. MEN BECAME WAGE EARNERS AND BREADWINNERS WITH ALL THE AUTHORITY; RESPECTABLE WOMEN STAYED AT HOME AND BECAME DEPENDENT! (THAT’S AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION BUT A GENERAL DESCRIPTION!)

MASS PRODUCTION AFFECTED THE CULTURAL MIND-SETS. IT MEANT A WHOLE NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT THE WORLD; THE BEGINNING OF THE HUGE COMMITMENT TO STANDARDIZATION. THE GUARANTEE THAT EVERY PRODUCT OFF THE ASSEMBLY LINE WAS EXACTLY THE SAME!

AND WHEN IT WAS RECOGNIZED THAT LITERACY WAS NEEDED IF PEOPLE WERE TO FOLLOW FACTORY INSTRUCTIONS – ASSEMBLY LINE EDUCATION WAS INTRODUCED ALMOST OVERNIGHT.

EVERYONE STARTED SCHOOL AT THE SAME AGE ON THE SAME DAY IN THE SAME CLASS WITH THE SAME CURRICULUM USING THE SAME TEXTBOOKS, AND WENT THROUGH THE SAME STAGES DOING THE SAME EXAMS AND PASSED IF THEY GOT THE SAME RIGHT ANSWERS.

SADLY MOST OF THAT SYSTEM BASED ON STANDARDIZATION IS STILL IN PLACE EVEN THOUGH FOR MORE THAN A DECADE THE WORLD HAS DEPENDED ON INNOVATION AND CREATIVE THINKING AS THE TOOLS THAT ARE NEEDED BY WORKERS TODAY. (INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA OF COURSE.)

THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE – AS TO WHAT WE BELIEVED – WHAT WAS CREDIBLE  – CHANGED AS WELL; THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION WAS BASED ON SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING; MECHANISATION AND FACTS.

MOST SIGNIFICANTLY THE OLD AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH WAS IN QUESTION – PARTICULARLY WITH THE THEORIES OF DARWIN AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY.

WHAT PEOPLE BELIEVED – WHAT THEY THOUGHT WAS TRUE OR FALSE  – OR WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF HUMANITY – AND DESTINY  – CAUSED MORE FUSS THEN, THAN THERE IS TODAY ABOUT THE WAY THE INTERNET AND WIKIPEDIA ARE ERODING OUR TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE BASE.

SOCIAL MEDIA (AND THE INTERNET) HAS MUCH THE SAME IMPACT AS DARWIN DID. IT IS CHALLENGING EVERY FACET OF OUR LIVES – AND AS YET WE HAVE NO FRAMEWORK FOR EXPLAINING OR SHAPING IT. WE JUST REACT – OR OVER-REACT!

WHERE ONCE PEOPLE MOVED FROM THE COUNTRY TO THE CITY TO BE WORKERS  – NOW THE TRANSITION IS ON FROM THE FACTORY – TO THE HOME  – OR OFFICES/ OR COFFEE SHOPS THAT MORE RESEMBLE HOME THAN A FACTORY FLOOR.

IN BRISBANE CBD THERE IS NOT ONE MAJOR BUILDING THAT DOESN’T HAVE A COFFEE SHOP  – AND SOMETIMES TWO!

AND THIS IS WHERE MUCH OF TODAY’S ‘WORK’ IS BEING DONE.

WHERE ONCE IT WAS BRAWN THAT ENSURED AN INDUSTRIAL JOB – NOW IT IS THE ‘SOFT SKILLS’ TALENT THAT IS REQUIRED.  MUCH OF IT IS VERBAL SKILL – THAT HASN’T AS YET BEEN QUANTIFIED  — BUT WE DO KNOW THAT THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT WOMEN ARE BETTER AT THESE TASKS THAN MEN.

THIS IS ONE REASON THAT IN THE USA 40% OF WIVES ARE NOW EARNING MORE THAN THEIR HUSBANDS; (LIZA MUNDY: THE RICHER SEX)

JUST THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT.

THIS IS ALSO THE CASE INCREASINGLY IN AUSTRALIA.

ONE UPSHOT OF THIS IS THAT THERE HAS BEEN A HUGE INCREASE IN THE SALES OF TOP OF THE RANGE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT IN THE USA AS STAY AT HOME HUSBANDS BECOME CHEFS RATHER THAN COOKING THE FAMILY MEAL.

AND MORE CORPORATE WOMEN ARE COMING HOME EXHAUSTED ONLY TO BE CONFRONTED WITH AN ELABORATE THREE COURSE DINNER WHICH DEMANDS APPRECIATION – WHEN ALL THEY WANT IS A PIECE OF CHEESE AND A GLASS OF WINE AND TO GO TO BED!

MORE WOMEN ARE GOING TO UNIVERSITY (60% IN WESTERN COUNTRIES) AND ARE GETTING BETTER GRADES. AND WHILE INDUSTRIAL JOBS ARE DISAPPEARING – THE TRADITIONAL PROFESSIONS OF WOMEN ARE IN DEMAND; HEALTHCARE, NURSING, EDUCATION, ACCOUNTING/ AUDITING (80% WOMEN IN USA) AS WELL AS VET SCIENCE, AND PHARMACY  – AND FEMALE GP’S ARE JUST ABOUT TO OUTNUMBER MALES IN THE UK

IN AUSTRALIA OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM REMAINS A LEGACY AND  ENTRENCHED 19TH CENTURY MODEL. THAT WE DO NOT TEACH EVERY STUDENT TO CODE – RATHER THAN SPELL IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE. WHILE THE USA AND THE UK ARE TEACHING CODING TO KIDS, WE STILL SPEND THE BULK OF OUR TIME ON THE TECHNICALITIES OF PRINT – 58% OF YEAR 10 NAPLAN IS BASED ON CORRECT SPELLING. THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!

AND WHAT ABOUT EXAMS?

DENYING STUDENTS ACCESS TO THEIR NETWORK TO ASSESS THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS IS TODAY, ABOUT THE SAME AS  PREVENTING THEM FROM USING PEN AND PAPER TO TEST CONTENT RETENTION AND REPRODUCTION IN THE PAST!

AND ESSAY WRITING IS AN ACTIVITY THAT HAS NO PLACE OUTSIDE AN EDUCATION INSTITUTION: WHEREAS THE ABILITY TO ORGANIZE COMPLEX INFORMATION – INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA – IS A HIGHLY VALUED SKILL.

AND THINKING HORIZONTALLY RATHER THAN VERTICALLY – HAVING THE FLEXIBILITY TO MAKE CONTINGENCY PLANS RATHER THAN BEING CONFINED TO TUNNEL VISION – IS A PRIZED ASSET. PARTICULARLY ON THE TRADING FLOOR!

AS AUSTRALIANS WE HAVE FEW IF ANY POLICIES THAT ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THIS GREAT CULTURAL SHIFT WHERE THE ONLY CONVERSATIONS SEEM TO CONCENTRATE ON THE ABUSES, RATHER THAN ON CONSTRUCTIVE AND CREATIVE USE FOR THE FUTURE. (AND BETTER UNDERSTANDING FOR MARKETING)

MOST OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE BENEFIT OF MORE EXPERIENCED AND WISER RESOURCES: (OUR GENERATION BEING LATE STARTERS).  AND WE HAVE PRETTY MUCH REVERSED ROLES, AND SET UP THE YOUNGER ONES AS THE EXPERTS.

IF THE PRINTER WON’T WORK GET THE BABY OUT OF THE COT TO FIX IT!

NOT A GOOD RECIPE FOR A STABLE SOCIAL FUTURE. PARTICULARLY NOT AT A TIME WHEN GENDER ROLE REVERSAL IS UNDERWAY AT SUCH A RAPID PACE, AS WOMEN INCREASINGLY BECOME BREADWINNERS.

THIS IS THE CONTEXT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA: THINK ABOUT THESE ENORMOUS SHIFTS BEFORE YOU START DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN YOUR BUSINESS.

LET ME JUST LIST SOME OF THE VITAL CHANGES.

  • THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES:
  • THERE ARE NO PERSONAL BOUNDARIES – ANYONE CAN ADOPT ANY ROLE ONLINE. WHO WE ARE IS BECOMING MUCH MORE PERMEABLE AT THE EDGES; THIS IS NOT JUST CHANGING IDENTITY – THIS IS BEING ANYONE YOU WANT TO BE WHENEVER YOU WANT TO AND IT IS REAL.
  • (MAYBE MORE REAL. ANTHONY WEINER, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF NY – SENT SEX TEXTS OF HIS SUPPOSEDLY PRIVATE PARTS TO CONSENTING YOUNG WOMEN; HE DID NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DID NOT BREAK UP ANYONE’S MARRIAGE NOT EVEN HIS OWN: NO PROSTITUTE, NO STALKING, NO GROPING OR HARASSMENT, DID NOT FREQUENT BARS ETC – DID NOT HAVE PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH ANYONE  – BUT HAS RECEIVED MORE CONDEMNATION THAN ALMOST ANY POLITICIAN WHO DID DO ANY OF THESE THINGS)

 

  • THERE IS LITTLE THAT IS MORE DISCOMBOBULATING THAN THE INABILITY TO IDENTIFY REAL FROM UNREAL!

 

  • THERE ARE NO SOCIAL BOUNDARIES (MRS CAME INTO USE IN THE INDUSTRIAL AGE WHEN IT BECAME NECESSARY TO KNOW WHICH MAN OWNED WHICH WOMAN! PRIOR TO THAT MRS GENERALLY MEANT AN OLDER WOMAN WHILE MISS WAS A GIRL JUST LIKE MASTER REFERRED TO A BOY!  MRS WAS ANOTHER NAIL IN THE STATUS OF WOMEN’S INDEPENDENCE. WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES HERE?)

 

  • PROCESSING INFORMATION – OR LEARNING OR KNOWING IS CHANGING: THESE DAYS IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO BE CONNECTED TO INFORMATION THAN TO LEARN IT OR ASSESS IT –YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KEEP IT IN YOUR HEAD. THAT’S WHAT THE SAVE KEY IS FOR

 

  • YOU CAN GOOGLE IT –  LOOK IT UP! THE INTERNET IS A FAR BIGGER RESOURCE THAN ANY INDIVIDUAL LIBRARY OR COLLECTION OF TEXTBOOKS HAS EVER BEEN! (ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA)

 

  • THIS HAS OVERWHELMING IMPLICATIONS FOR WHAT WE CONSIDER TRUTH IN ADVERTISING (OR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING OR JOURNALISM) OR EDUCATION!

 

  • NO ONE KNOWS MORE THAN EVERYONE – CROWD SOURCING AND GENUINE PEER REVIEW (AS IN WIKIPEDIA) IS THE BASIS OF AUTHORITY

 

  • MORE PEOPLE WANT TO CREATE THEIR OWN INFORMATION THAN TO BE TOLD SOMETHING (FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR EDUCATORS AND MARKETERS). THIS DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NOT ‘LEARNING’ – IT MEANS THAT THEY WANT TO ENGAGE WITH THE ISSUE – THEY WANT TO LEARN FROM PROBLEM SOLVING, TO COME UP WITH THEIR OWN VERSIONS OF HOW TO DO IT! (HARDLY ANY TWO PEOPLE WOULD USE THEIR I-PHONES THE SAME WAY – THERE AREN’T MANUALS BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS TO WORK IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES IN A WAY THAT SUITS THEM!)

 

  • SO MUCH FOR STANDARDISED CONTENT FROM TEXT BOOKS!

 

  • WE DON’T READ OR WRITE OR SPELL AS WE ONCE DID. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO READ BUT NOT NECESSARILY IN THE HIGHLY DISCIPLINED WAY THAT WE DID WITH PRINT: LEFT TO RIGHT, ACROSS, AND DOWN TO THE NEXT LINE IN STANDARDISED FASHION.

 

  • ONLINE – WEBPAGES  – WE SCAN AND OUR EYE MOVEMENTS LOOK SOMETHING LIKE A CAPITAL F –  TOP LEFT HAND CORNER – ACROSS THEN BACK AND HALF WAY DOWN – THEN HALF WAY ACROSS AND BACK, THEN DOWN TO THE BOTTOM LEFT HAND CORNER.
  • IF YOU EVER HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO CONVEY DON’T USE THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAND CORNER – EYES DON’T GO THERE!

 

PRIVACY

  • WE HAVE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CONCEPT OF PRIVACY FROM EARLIER GENERATIONS – WHETHER IT BE THROUGH WIKILEAKS, OR LIKE MR WEINER DISPLAYING HIS WARES.
  • OR THE YOUNG WHO HAVE NOT QUITE GRASPED THE IDEA THAT REVEALING YOUR PRIVATE PARTS OR LIVES TO THE WORLD CAN STAY REAL FOR EVER!
  • WHAT DO WE WANT TO KEEP PRIVATE – OR IS IT A CONCEPT THAT IS PAST ITS USE BY DATE? NOTHING TO HIDE – OK? (US GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE)

I’M NOT TRYING TO INDICATE IF THERE IS A RIGHT OR WRONG WAY OF DOING THIS – I’M TRYING TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE ARE IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY – AND THAT SOCIAL MEDIA HAS BECOME THE EQUIVALENT OF THE NEW PRODUCTION LINE. AND IT IS IN OPERATION 24 HOURS A DAY. AND THAT IT IS TRANSITIONAL – LIKE NOKIA IT WILL BE DISPLACED WITHIN A FEW YEARS.

IT’S WHERE WE GO TO WORK AND TO PLAY AND TO SOCIALIZE AND TO BUY AND SELL – AND WE HAVEN’T YET WORKED OUT ALL THE IMPLICATIONS.

WE DON’T EDUCATE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THIS MEDIUM OR FOR THIS MEDIUM.  I HAVEN’T HEARD THESE ISSUES RAISED IN THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND I THINK THEY ARE AMONG THE MOST IMPORTANT OF OUR TIME!

HOW DO WE PLAN FOR SOCIETY – FOR THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH BUSINESSES CAN THRIVE; WHAT SORT OF EDUCATION DO WE NEED AND WHAT ETHICS DO WE PROPOSE –WHAT ABOUT THE ENORMOUS GENDER CHANGES TAKING PLACE?  WILL WOMEN TAKE OVER, AND IF SO – WHAT SORT OF WORLD WOULD WE CREATE? (SEE HANNAH ROSINS BOOK THE END OF MEN AND THE RISE OF WOMEN – MAKES RIVETTING READING!)

THIS IS NOT IDLE SPECULATION; IT’S A BIG TOPIC IN THE UNITED STATES – BUT HAS NOT EVEN WAFTED THIS WAY …..

IT’S A COMMON COMPLAINT AMONG WOMEN THAT THESE CHANGES HAVE RESULTED IN A SHORTAGE OF ELIGIBLE MALES:

THIS IS TRUE IF WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WOMEN BEING ABLE TO ‘MARRY UP’  – WHICH HAS BEEN THE TRADITIONAL REQUIREMENT  – PARTICULARLY WHEN A WOMAN’S STATUS WAS MEASURED ON THE BASIS OF THE GOOD CATCH SHE MADE, AND THE STANDING OF HER HUSBAND.

OLDER, WISER, TALLER, WEALTHIER MEN WERE UP; BUT THERE JUST AREN’T ENOUGH OF THEM UP ANY MORE! BECAUSE NOW IT IS WOMEN WHO ARE STARTING TO OCCUPY THAT SPACE! (NOT SURE ABOUT TALLER!)

JUST TO CONCLUDE; DON’T TAKE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THE WORLD WORKS FOR GRANTED; THERE IS NO PRECEDENT FOR THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY OR OUR SELVES OR OUR WORK AT THE MOMENT. OR WHO DOES WHAT AND WHY!

BUT I THINK IT IS A PRIORITY FOR ALL OF US, AND PARTICULARLY FOR WOMEN CHIEFS OF ENTERPRISE. MOST USA SOCIAL COMMENTATORS LOOKING AT THE POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE NEW INFORMATION AGE IDENTIFY A TIPPING POINT – WHERE WOMEN ARE THE CHIEFS OF ENTERPRISE AND CEOS ETC;

ALREADY THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT THE MOST INNOVATIVE AND SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES HAVE MORE WOMEN IN MORE TOP JOBS. AND ARE USING SOCIAL MEDIA MORE CONSTRUCTIVELY.

I SUSPECT THAT WE ARE AT THE TIPPING POINT OF A MASSIVE SOCIAL UPHEAVAL THAT WILL FAR EXCEED THE CHANGES IN LIVES AND LOVES AND LABOUR THAN THOSE BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.

© dale spender

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