Some CEOs get it, but most don’t – the accelerated evolution of our society: Tell me what you mean by “Facebook Relationship” and I will tell you how old you are.

by Raša Karapandža

Over the last couple of years I have had a chance to talk to many CEOs of large corporations. Unfortunately, most of them do not get it. What is this that they do not get? They do not get how fast our society is evolving. Let me give you an example.

A few months ago I had a chance to listen to a talk of a CEO of one of the largest corporations in the World. He was very proud of the pace at which his corporation is moving into the digital age. So, he was very proud that some of their multi-million $ machines switched from recording medical images on film to DVDs. I really did not had a heart to tell him that I haven’t had a computer with a DVD player for the last 5 years. He does not get it.

A rare CEO that gets it - Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, the CEO of Opel.

A rare CEO that gets it – Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, the CEO of Opel.

But some do get it. One of them is the CEO of Opel – Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. A few days ago I was lucky enough to listen to his speech – an impressive one. And he does get it. He gets that our society is changing at the rate which is faster then ever in our history. Is that enough to turn the steering wheel of Opel and change the direction in which company has been heading for almost three decades – I don’t know, nobody knows. But what I do know, is that if someone can do it is him.

What is this accelerated evolution of the society that I am talking about? It is easiest to understand this on an example of such evolution. When you, or me,… when we think about the field “Relationship Status” on Facebook, we think of our real-life husbands, wifes, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners… If you talk to teenagers who started using Facebook when they were 10 years old or earlier, they have a completely different perception. For them, one can have a Facebook relationship and a real-life relationship – these are in their heads completely separate categories. This whole phenomenon has been created by the different evolution of their social interactions – they have started having Facebook relationships before they have had any real life boyfriends or girlfriends. That is how a completely new societal category was born in just one short decade – A Facebook Relationship.

There are myriad of changes like the creation of the “Facebook Relationship” societal category that are all around us.  I am lucky enough to work at a university and while interacting with new generations each year I am being constantly exposed to these really fast changes that our society is going through right now. On the other hand I see a problem. Our countries and corporations are mostly being run by the old school. Thus the problem that our society is facing is that most CEOs and politicians do not get it. Moreover, they dont even get that they are not getting it – a phenomenon in psychology known as Dunning-Kruger effect.