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Lecture on Disruption of Democracy and of Public Services

24 October 2019 | 10:30 - 12:00

Steven de Waal will lecture and have a dialogue with the staff of a Canadian government related thinktank about the main analyses and conclusions in his latest book: ‘Civil Leadership as the Future of Leadership. Harnessing the disruptive power of citizens’ (Amazon, 2018). In line with the thinktank’s focus on foresights and within that on social phenomena and issues, the main points in his presentation will be:

Disruption is not restricted to markets, because the underlying technological revolution also brings more data, information and power of opinion and organization to citizens. The slogan for the book is: ‘It’s not technology, stupid, but mentality and power of citizens’. That is the reason why in the book the current revolution is called the third revolution in mankind: ‘the Digital Civil Revolution’.

‘It’s not technology, stupid, but mentality and power of citizens’

In the public domain (state, public services and civil society), this leads to two main disruptions: 1. disruption of democracy and 2. disruption of public services.

Ad 1 Disruption of Democracy

(See also De Waal’s latest blog on publicspace.eu: https://publicspace.eu/the-unfortunate-disruptions-of-democracy-and-the-fortunate-opening-of-the-public-arena/).

The phenomena we can observe worldwide in democracies, all due to this revolution, are:

  • Massive public protest started by, organized and maintained by individuals (like Yellow Vests in France, Farmerprotest in Holland, but also streetprotest in Hong Kong)
  • Electoral success of runner ups from outside politics (like Beppe Grillo in Italy, Macron in France and Trump in the USA)
  • A new competition about public authority and leadership within a public arena that is broader than just the political arena and now includes private persons (citizens) and private executives (social responsibility)

The book analyzes different causes underlying these phenomena: a new medialandscape, with a third channel on which people themselves produce information and media, a public opinion that is now of the public itself, a permanent public grandstand, battle for the eyeballs, leading to more need for actorship and rhetorical skills because all public arenas are more like theatres with an audience, the need for more direct democracy and swarmbehaviour.

Ad 2 Disruption of Public Services

Because of the new data and communication power of citizens and their training in all kinds of platformbusinesses we now see:

  • More demand of shared decision making, based on their own knowledge and data
  • More peerreview of providers between citizens, like patients, pupils etc, even leading to peerreview on platforms by clients about providers and professionals individually
  • More citizens initiatives in care, housing or neighbourhood management based on ‘commons’ or ‘cooperatives’
  • Publicly ventured complaints with bigger influence than previous official regulations

This is now totally changing the supply side attitude of public services, because of their reputation risk and need for direct public support. It is changing their attitude and interaction with clients and clientinitiatives.

Looking forward to a challenging debate with professionals in the art of foresight!


24 October 2019
10:30 - 12:00
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