The Fifth Industrial Revolution: The rise of the Digital Village

Kerri Lawrence | August 31, 2020

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child; a network of family and friends who care as much about the growth and welfare of your precious child as much as you do, who offer support, guidance and differing points of view. It relies on deep and lasting relationships that are built over time via tried and true methods that bond the community together.

It is akin to how successful organisations recruit individuals and help them become trusted and valued team members within their own organisational village. By using their own inhouse methods of induction and assimilation combined with the day to day contacts that arise from close and tactile quarters and technology to reach far flung teams, organisations can be forgiven for believing they were building strong and resilient teams

However, COVID-19 highlights how ill equipped we were. It exposed the reality of teams that rely on the rhythm of social interaction to function successfully. As freedom of movement was curtailed, businesses shuttered and global economies slowed, we were fooled into thinking that we could easily pivot into an online world, because we had already embraced technology to communicate and to operate locally in a global world.

Collectively the response was to "go online" replicating our existing business models virtually, replacing day to day meetings with video meetings and substituting the coffee catch up with video check ins. It became back to back calls, chained to our chairs without even the opportunity to stretch our legs as we walked to the next appointments.

We revelled in the newness of it all, but as the weeks wore on these video connections became more transactional and more tiring as the impacts of juggling home schooling, bad Internet and physical tiredness from not being able to truly exercise.

In my recent series, Keep Calm, I spoke of the fundamental change to the way we work, coming full circle, harnessing the benefits of the digital age to once again finding employment on our doorstep. Importantly though, a successful digital village requires a different rhythm.


In our eagerness to pivot, we missed the opportunity the first time to set ourselves for success. We forgot to take the time to create a new rhythm for a digital village, something to punctuate the day so it was not an endless stream of video calls and emails.

A successful and sustainable digital village requires clearly defined organisational outcomes and clarity in responsibilities and accountability.  A successful digital village knows what it is trying to achieve and each individual’s role in getting there. It is built on trust and mutual expectation that you will deliver on what you have committed to as well as a clearly defined roadmap for delivery.

A successful digital village utilises technology to stay connected but is disciplined in its use.

In only a few short months the world has changed, dramatically for some, but in some degree for all. The ingrained rhythm of our previous working life, where we left home for work, spent the day away and journeyed home again, has fundamentally changed for the foreseeable future.

Successful organisations will create a new rhythm for the digital village, a morning and afternoon check-in as appropriate to start and end the day, well defined accountabilities and responsibilities and a clear strategy to articulate organisational outcomes which empower their teams.

Kerri Lawrence








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