Digital transformation – the end of technocrats

Decision-makers feel far away from the small influencing factors. And yet, the flapping of the smallest undertakings can create a massive storm. More and more computer power enables increasingly comprehensive integration of these micro influences, which are used as the basis for decisions. Especially indecisive top managers, who have a hard time making decisions, like to hide behind such calculations. The basis for a decision is for them not the convincing forecast or the feeling for good biz, but the result of a computation which, based on estimates, leads to proposals generated by an algorithm. The technocratic decision-makers oversee that this kind of decision in the context of the digital transformation will be taken over by the computers and thus announces their end.

The following reasons explain the world view of those responsible, who, far from vision and gut feeling, lose sight of the decisive part of their occupation.

  • Factual constraints as basic conditions
    The compelling necessities are justifications for a decision, on which the leaders believe not having influence. This forces them to make decisions that they do not want but have to make. The reporting provides them with the basis that uses key figures to show the presumed vulnerabilities. This form of externalization is typical for those who do not feel responsible for their actions.
  • Technical progress as a goal
    The effects of the reign of experts have so far been particularly evident in totalitarian states. The planned economy relied on strict guidelines and resource allocation by experts, who develop and decide the solutions and five-year plans on a drawing board without consulting the people concerned or embedding their abilities. The selective perception and the Semmelweis reflex prevent these nerds from making a holistically justifiable choice.
  • Fairness as a blind spot
    The logic of the measurable facts overlays the interaction of quantitative AND qualitative variables, which influence each other with a time delay in complex effect networks. Above all, subjective aspects, such as righteousness, are challenging to grasp and are ignored by experts because they can hardly be incorporated into a formula. Digital transformation makes it possible to calculate more, but then the machine no longer needs technocratic decision-makers because the algorithms decide by themselves – better, faster, and more foreseeable.
  • Rationalization as a Reason
    Since the digital transformation began in the seventies, the image of a company has changed. While Henry Ford has made extensive efforts to integrate all aspects of value creation vertically, today’s activities are distributed among different companies and around the globe to achieve the lowest possible depth of production. Machines successively replace humans as actors. The remaining tasks will be outsourced to third parties as cheaply as possible. Technocrats act like sports addicts, who cannot stop until breakdown becoming more powerful and, at the same time, fitter. And that although they are sawing off the branch, on which they are sitting.
  • The human being as a statistical-technical function
    Even though the perceptions of the employees and leaders are hard to transfer into numbers, statistics provide a remedy – for example, to describe personal motivation at work: In Switzerland, in 2016, three aspects were most important to employees: a good relationship with their colleagues, an exciting job and pleasant working hours. It is more convenient to deduce the measures from such detected results than talk with the own staff about what they think is right. Decision-makers who use formulas to calculate their decisions are as anachronistic as the horse-drawn coachman with the introduction of automobiles.

Bottom line: The responsible people are stuck in a corset of compliance, general data availability, and unmanageable VUCA. They forget thereby the decisive part of their biz – the people. Everything happens so quickly and everywhere that a well-thought-out reaction is no longer possible. The comprehensive breakdown of a situation into its components and the detailed investigation of the subtleties cannot be done with a particular act of strength. Digital transformation automates most routine activities. And heads-up! Also, the technocratic decision-makers will soon no longer be needed because, in the future, the employees are making the decisions since they are closer to the customer and on-site. What remains is the company’s overall management, which can no longer be delegated to a formula, but requires a real decision. The intuitive entrepreneur, who relies on his gut feeling and is committed to ethical values, replaces the technocrats, who become incapable of making decisions because of their corset. The digital transformation, which is seen as the last resort for avoiding personnel costs, replaces its promoters with corresponding software and initiates the end of the technocrats.