In the age of digital, our editor, Lauren Gow, ponders whether we have been too hasty to dismiss the old ways of doing things in favour of the shiny new ways.

“SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE!” being shrieked, immediately followed by the familiar sting of a tennis ball hitting my left thigh. This was what greeted me as I dropped my son, Atticus at school today. Not the best start to my Friday, particularly as I was pre-Macchiato.

Handball is a distinctly primary school game with four players on four squares. The aim of the game is to become the serving Ace and to hold your spot as long as possible before you are sent packing after a missed shot to become dunce. As I limped away, a question popped into my head. “How do they know how to play exactly the same way as I did 30-odd years ago?”

I am not sure if handball is played in other countries or whether this is an Australian game, but I am sure there would be similar games (anyone for dodgeball?) It is not a teacher-taught game. The information has clearly been passed from one kid to another, year after year. In fact, my 70-year-old father-in-law confirms he too played it which means the same game has been played for at least 65 years.

As I watched the kids play, it struck me that this type of analogue information sharing has become increasingly rare as Industrial Revolution 4.0 has taken hold. There is clearly a place for digital in our world, but what is the true value of analogue?

Analogue information is passed from human-to-human through conversation and repeated practice. In risk management, this usually occurs in the form of: “This is the way we have always done it.” This is largely seen as unhelpful but, upon reflection, perhaps we have been too quick to judge. 

Have we been too hasty to dismiss the old ways of doing things in favour of the shiny new ways? StrategicRISK has been running its #ChangingRisk campaign all year and it has been unprecedented in its popularity. I am not advocating we dump the campaign and go back to diligent heat mapping, but I am questioning whether we should dismiss everything Risk Management 1.0.

Where there is rapid change so too comes the unsettling feeling of freefalling without convention. Familiarity, whilst breeding contempt, also has a side occupation as a cortisol-calming agent. Before we dismiss it out-of-hand, let’s pause for a moment to reflect.

Beside me on my desk sits my Kindle on top of copies of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale, Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Mansfield Park and Loren Fox’s Enron: The Rise and Fall. I switch constantly between digital and analogue reading but both have an equal place on my desk.

There are obvious gains to be made from embracing 4.0, but let’s not forget where came from and how we got there.