1 A Decade of Change

From Collective to Individual: How Technology and Societal Shifts Have Shaped Us Over the Past Ten Years.

Over the past decade, our society has undergone unprecedented change—a transition that deeply impacts the way we live, work, and interact with each other. This era of transformation, driven by the acceleration of technological advancement and a shift in societal values, has brought both challenges and opportunities.

The Shift from Collective to Individual

At the core of this change lies the shift from collective to individual orientation within society. Where we once embraced the power of the collective, the individual now takes center stage. The remnants of compartmentalization have been cleared away, and the neoliberalism of the late 20th century, combined with globalization, has dismantled public services that previously functioned as the glue of society. The belief that the market could better meet our needs has led to significant impoverishment: disappearing bus lines, less accessible healthcare, and a society where citizens increasingly behave as economic units.

The digital revolution, marked by the rise of the internet, Google, Facebook, and the iPhone, has profoundly and irreversibly changed our lives. Communication has become individualized, and our interactions with others have fundamentally changed. On the train, people immerse themselves in their smartphones instead of engaging in conversations. News consumption has shifted from traditional media to algorithm-driven feeds, leading to an increasingly isolated existence.

“Where we once embraced the power of the collective, the individual now takes center stage.”

The Impact of Social Media

Facebook, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in early 2024, symbolizes the ambivalent legacy of social media. Once intended to connect people, these platforms have now contributed to the emergence of closed bubbles, leading to a fragmented and polarized society. Despite the opportunities social media offer to expand networks and find support, loneliness among people has actually increased over the past ten years.

The individualization of our society has been further reinforced by big data and artificial intelligence. These technologies have made individual profiling the new norm, with personalized news feeds and offers seamlessly aligning with our needs. But these developments have also led to increased isolation and a lack of awareness about our own contribution to these processes.

The Need for Technological Agility

The pace of technological change is only accelerating, making it essential for organizations to invest in their agility. Examples from healthcare and business illustrate how technological progress forces organizations to implement major, complex changes. The success of these transformations depends on the willingness to change and the methods used to manage these changes.

This decade has also witnessed significant societal trends: the influence of digitalization, growing climate awareness, demographic shifts, increasing polarization, and a heightened focus on health and well-being. These trends point to a future where today’s challenges, such as climate change and pressure on healthcare, will be even more prominent.

As we navigate through this period of unprecedented change, it is clear that the decisions we make today will have a lasting impact on our future. Individualization, technological progress, and changing societal dynamics require a conscious and coordinated response. It is up to all of us to decide which path we will follow, how we will seize the opportunities these changes offer, and how we will face the challenges that inevitably lie ahead.