Future Organizations and Leadership 1: “The Future”

Pınar Ersoy Özdoğru
8 minutes

I gave a speech on Future Organizations and Leadership in January 2021 in line with the demand from business people. While partially acknowledging the uncertainty of the pandemic process we are going through, I asked the question, “Is the world evolving because of certain events, or are certain events happening because the world is evolving?” by saying that how a business will progress can be predicted to a certain extent from the current trajectory, as stated in the proverb “Thursday’s arrival is known from Wednesday”. It was possible to say that the business world was undergoing change, but that the reactions were accelerated or slowed down by the introduction of catalysts.

In the vision of the future, which is at the core of the subject, systemic and human elements can be defined as the basic elements of change. Systemic and human dynamics in business life are like the paradox: “Does the chicken hatch from the egg or the egg from the chicken?”

Looking at the systemic dynamics with a linear flow of time, the first Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the steam engine in England in 1763 and has continued to develop until today. However, this growth process is not stable, i.e. linear. Periods of rapid expansion are often followed by periods of crisis and impoverishment, leading to a decline in social welfare. This fluctuating development process of capitalism was first analyzed in detail by the Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff. In 1925, the economist Nikolai Kondratieff found that these changes were more like a sine wave than a linear flow, but he did not put forward a comprehensive theory to explain these fluctuations. After 1925, many scientists contributed to this theory. Joseph Schumpeter, with his business cycle theory, explained the reason for these long waves: the emergence of new products, new services and new processes. Carlota Perez argues that these technological revolutions were accompanied by a newly created techno-economic paradigm, and that with this new paradigm the technological revolutions created a new wave of development lasting 50 or 60 years. It is stated that today is experiencing the fifth wave and is in the process of transition to the sixth wave.

Each wave creates its own new environment and after a while the number of companies using this technology increases with the imitations that emerge as a result of imitations of this technology. This wave of increased competition is entering a period of stagnation as it begins to consolidate within itself. Since the value generated by the current wave is different from the value generated in the financial market, this trend fades after a certain period of time and a small-scale recession occurs, followed by a new wave with the introduction of a new technology. The time course of the waves also differs in each country and phase differences may occur. Today, developed countries are experiencing the end of the fifth wave and the beginning of the sixth wave, while developing countries are somewhere in the fifth wave. At the beginning of a new wave, the effects and returns of the previous wave can be observed. The flow of these returns can be likened to a spiral. The new wave encompasses the previous one, creating a higher business model and a different way of doing business and a different level of perspective. For example, the lean production concept emerged with the impact of the fourth wave on the automotive sector, and the fifth wave continued to evolve by including this concept. The future sixth wave is expected to include the flexible organizational structures that emerged in the fifth wave.

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When it comes to the sixth wave, especially large investors are trying to predict the area where this wave will occur. In line with the predictions of many scientists, this field will be realized in environmental technologies for the sustainability of the ecosystem at the point of “sustainability” and in the health sector for the “sustainability” of human beings with the point of more efficient use of resources; new phenomena that will emerge with the application of quantum mechanics formulas at the subatomic level (to nano particles) and bio technologies in addition to nanotechnologies. It is envisaged that the new wave could create a new sector or displace the health and/or environmental technologies sector from its current position.

People can dream many dreams about the future, but they cannot realize any of these dreams at the point where they have exhausted their resources, especially the earth. Based on this statement, the concept of sustainability can be defined as one of the indispensable elements for people to realize their dreams for the future. In order to guarantee their own survival and future, people also want to guarantee environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability here is not limited to the concepts of carbon footprint, green label, the need for efficient use of resources, renewable energy sources. It speaks of a larger perception of the environment that includes social welfare. This new level of perception brings with it a very holistic, inclusive understanding of unity.

When describing the butterfly effect, the expression “if a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere, there will be a storm in the world” has become more understandable for all of us, especially after the pandemic. Now, when a sentence like “If a child in Africa drinks dirty water, even if all children in Europe drink clean water, they will get a stomach ache in a day or two” is uttered, no one is in a position to object to this sentence. This means that the concept of sustainability imposes a meaning that encompasses social welfare, whether for the whole ecosystem or just for human sustainability.

Accordingly, it would not be a wrong prediction to say that in the sixth wave the boundaries between social welfare and individual welfare levels will be eroded and overcome. Such an understanding may cause people to think again about how independent they can be from all other beings, as well as creating the need to re-fill some concepts and values.

As mentioned in the examples and concepts mentioned above, research shows that with the sixth wave, the concepts of freedom and independence brought by the enlightenment will be questioned again. If every action taken will have an impact on global sustainability and social welfare, people will start to question how independent they can act, and this will lead to a reshaping of concepts in the sixth wave.

In the fifth wave, the convergence of technology was seen on matter and has become quite widespread today. For example, when we look at a cell phone, we see that it is actually a convergence on a substance by taking many substances such as a voice recorder, a watch, a calendar, a computer, a radio. In the sixth wave, this convergence is envisioned to take place on the human body, with new phenomena created by nanotechnologies and biotechnologies. Examples of such studies include the fetus produced in a goat fetus, organs produced in an animal, the production of limbs with three-dimensional printers, and the production of microchips that can restore the brain to its former capacity for dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases. With the new phenomena that technology will create, the human emerges as an indicator of the convergence of matter and animal in the human body, and this brings up the prediction of a new “human” that we have started to hear more frequently today.

The sixth wave not only shows that the boundaries between societal well-being and individual well-being are being eroded in terms of sustainability, but also pushes the boundaries between humans, animals, matter and digitalization. Fifty years ago, people were not questioning “what makes me human?”, whereas today we are questioning and referring to matter. Fifty years from now, the same inquiries will continue, but the reference of people will no longer be through matter due to the convergence of matter, but through spiritual concepts. Therefore, the concepts of spirituality and spirituality coming into play here and approaching the concept called “post-human” can be exemplified as one of the issues that are foreseen to be questioned with new waves.

Each wave has its own terminology and methodology and prioritizes its own values. On the one hand, the internal pressure of the new wave continues to build up for inter-national studies, arrangements and regulations needed, and it is anticipated that this conjunctural pressure will have serious repercussions on organizations, which are one of the points where the new world system and human beings intersect.

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