What I didn’t say on my first talk show


Those of you who follow my blogs and articles already know about my interest in innovation and digitalization. And of course how they are impacting the workforce, companies and society. I recently had the great opportunity to discuss these issues on a German primetime talk show called Anne Will.

How I got invited

After the show, some people asked me how I came to be invited. Well I hope there was a good research team behind it, and not just luck. I was surprised, of course. Also, I wasn’t sure whether I should attend. I personally don’t watch any talk shows; in fact, I don’t even own a TV. But I told myself: if I want to change things, I have to make my voice be heard, so I agreed to be a guest on the show.

How I prepared for the show

Other people asked me what happens in the days before the broadcast. Well, after the first contact, I talked twice with an editor from the show. He asked me for my opinion on several topics and wanted to gather some information about my background. I myself did some reading before the show, watched some background talks and looked again into the statistics on digitalization provided by BITCOM. I’m no specialist for social security and didn’t know much about the concept of an unconditional basic income, but I did have an opinion.

  1. My theses going into the discussion: The world and the global economy are changing; we are currently experiencing a fourth industrial revolution. The social security system that we now have in Germany, however, is based on the previous industrial revolution. It needs a total overhaul, considering the fact that we will have different industries, services, information, and job profiles going into the future. People’s work experiences today are totally different from the experiences in the past. More women are working, employees no longer work for one company their whole life, people are taking extended breaks in their career, going on sabbaticals, and taking time off for their kids, or to care for older family members.
  2. In my view, digitalization is just as revolutionary as the development of written language or printed books – and will have a similar impact. It grants individuals access to more information – at any time, and from anyplace. This empowers people – but can also cause social unrest.
  3. According to official studies. digitalization will make up to 49 % of jobs redundant, but nearly the same amount of jobs will be created. But they have different characteristics. That is why, in order to keep up with digitalization and its changing requirements, we need a more complex and longer-term education system. Lifelong learning will become essential.
  4. Old systems, which have been successful in companies as well as in German society, rely on the efficiency and optimization of processes. And they also inherently mistrust people. As a result, a considerable amount of resources is spent on supervision and making sure that people behave according to fixed rules. This hinders innovation and agility, while creating more bureaucracy, which is particularly dangerous in an economy and society that need more flexible rules, open minds and new ideas.
  5. To be able to face the (digital) future successfully, government and enterprises consequently need to be bold and change fundamentally; from mistrust and control to empowerment and delegation.

Well, during the actual discussion I of course couldn’t address all of these ideas in depth. I think I got to speak two times – perhaps also due to the other participants, who had strong political opinions, working so hard to state their standpoints.

The most interesting topic for me

One radical concept introduced on the show was an unconditional basic income. It is disruptive and is based on, among others, the idea that people become more innovative when they are not supervised or forced to do a job they don’t like. At the same time, it could of course invite people to do nothing. But I believe that we should value social work and creative work more than we did in the past. On the show, all politicians, no matter from which party, were against it, but for me the concept is very appealing.

What’s next?

So what did I take away from the discussion? Regarding an unconditional basic income, I have to do some homework, as I don’t yet know how such a system is supposed to be financed. That is of course an important question that no one could answer during the discussion. So I’ll do a bit of digging, to see if it could be feasible.

If you’re curious about the show, you can still watch it on youtube.

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