BLOG TAKEOVER: 2017 Speaker Gene Hewitt - Is there a Reason For Panic?



Could you imagine - for a second - a world without smartphones, without Facebook and without all the technological advances that have gotten so embedded into our psyche, our daily lives and our interactions with each other? Whilst having a stroll along the beautiful canals of Amsterdam I found myself pondering this unimaginable scenario. As fate would have it, it would not be long before I got a call that would bring me closer to the answer.

 It is unthinkable in today’s world to run a business without considering the technological aspects and footprint of both the business and its stakeholders, while taking into account social media, technological connectedness (WebEx, Skype, computers and telephones) and human interactions dictated by applications like WhatsApp, text messages and Facetime. It is clear that technology has contributed to the astronomical increase in global economic landscape, higher revenue, faster decision making processes and smoother transitional procedures. This is the result of where we are in the evolution of technology today. And still we grow.

 Is there reason for panic? Christina Hamlett shares that the impact of technological advancements of recent decades have much in common with the effects of the Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century. Specifically, both movements accelerated the displacement of workers by machines that could perform tasks faster, more accurately and 24/7. Does this sound like perhaps a silent plea or even slight panic? No? It doesn’t? Just me then….My guess is that around the end of the 18th century there were those who rang the proverbial bells in a state of frenzy: where is this world headed towards? How can we keep people connected whilst still creating profitable establishments?

 John Dudovskiy shares that the success of a business entity depends on the level of communication with the various stakeholders of the business, the choice of tools selected to conduct the communication, the content of the message being communicated, as well as, the manner in which the communication is conducted. It has been stressed that “managers spend about 80 percent of their time – 6 hours and 24 minutes for every eight-hour day – in direct communication with others, whether on the phone, in meetings, via e-mail, or in individual conversations” (Boone and Kurtz, 2010, p.296). With any kind of communication also comes miscommunication, internal biases, and the strong undercurrent of the unconscious mind. Are we in today’s society and fast growing world equipped with the right tools to deal with how we communicate and its effects?

No Technology for four days

 As fate, would have it, while pondering these questions, I get a phone call from the founders of “The Collective Europe”. A four-day non-tech conference in the beautiful hills of Barcelona, that offers a retreat style get away. No PowerPoint, no cell phones, simple yet comfortable digs, food and everything else included. The psychoanalyst in me immediately sparked up thinking: exciting modern theories, strong defences and a system full of anxiety riddled members! How does one cope with having to deal with this complete new sense of reality, a far-off memory, a distant dream, a tale once told…we are talking no technology for 4 days?

How to built strong healthy communities and businesses


 I don’t know about you but I packed my bags the moment I put down the phone and started to think about my segment for the conference. After the initial panic and the what-the-hell-did-I-get-myself-into moments I knew what my segment was going to be about, and what I feel most passionate about: how to build strong healthy communities and businesses utilizing psychoanalysis and systemic thinking!

A mouthful I know, but bear with me. Think about this, how often have you found yourself in a pathological state sensing that your defences are at play or that perhaps certain decisions that were made by you were soaked in subjectivity, covered in persecutory judgement and smeared with unconscious envy – yet you feel that you can’t do anything about it? That last person you didn’t hire because you had ‘a feeling’? When was the last time you caught yourself remembering that one person, from that one meeting, who was wearing that off purple shirt, and had that great smile? You know the one whose eyebrow did that thing and he had his legs crossed. You don’t!?

Or perhaps the daunting idea that technology is causing an increase in disconnect between employers which inevitably leads to high levels of disparity and psychological compartmentalization – is this reason for panic?

 As a leader in today’s corporate world you want to create more awareness around how and what you communicate both on a conscious and unconscious level. Drawing parallels on training expenditures, delivery methods, employee engagement programs, training initiatives and the allocation of funds therein, you very often find that information retention is limited. Are we after KPI’s, measurable ROI or perhaps actual change? Research shows that in 2015 around 70.6 billion dollar was spend on training initiatives. Findings also show that a large percentage could not remember around 50% of what was thought a mere 24 hours later. Perhaps it’s time to take a different approach.

 We are slaves to our unconscious mind and technology that keeps us “swiping”. Every step we take, every decision we make and every dynamic we enter, the ID, as Freud called it, has more control over your cognitive and conscious behaviour than you can imagine and perhaps continues to keep us in a state of technological fugue. How do you master some of these feelings? How do you discover what your susceptibility is, how do you learn how to create an environment where you can allow these feelings to be present yet not destructive?

If It's in your head, It's in the room

 As a graduate from the Tavistock, the oldest and first psychoanalytical institute in the world, this is what my passion has always been, to learn about human behaviour from their most primal instincts and defences to their polished modern image. I for one do worry and do ponder the question often, how do we indeed move forward? Perhaps I’ll see you on October 4th – 8th in Barcelona during my session and we can discover this answer together. Is there a reason for panic? – Let’s find out together. One learning objective that I can share with you is the following: if it’s in your head, it will be in the room, if it’s in the room, it will find its way to come out and manifest itself within the system. Einstein once said: it has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity – perhaps we can prove him wrong.

Anique Coffee