Chapter 2: Feminine and Masculine Principles in the Digital Age

The ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang can be used to describe the complementary energies of the feminine and masculine. Yin is often associated with qualities such as soft, nurturing, chaotic, flexible, and creative, while Yang is often associated with qualities such as hard, mental, logical, strategic, and fixed.

In the past, women were typically assigned tasks that required Yin energy, such as raising children and caring for the home, while men were assigned tasks that required Yang energy, such as hunting and working in the fields. However, as technology has advanced, this division of labor has become less and less rigid. Today, women are just as capable as men of doing jobs that require Yang energy, such as driving excavators and programming computers.

In the digital age, the emphasis has shifted from reproduction to development. In the industrial age, the greatest increase in efficiency lay in the production chains, where Yang energy was essential. However, in the digital age, the share of programming and development is growing, and Yin energy becomes more important.

Unstructured experiments that are allowed to fail are more important than structured assembly line work. Relationships, communication, and creative chaos also become more important, even though they can bring negative emotions such as anger and frustration. Sharing knowledge with each other is more important than being the sole winner.

In the digital age, we are faced with vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). In response, these constraints have given rise to new forms of management that became known as agile management. These methods are empirical, in contrast to the management methods of the industrial age, which were called “scientific” or “defined.” These methods are known as Taylorism, after the founder of this principle.

Agile management methods are more flexible and adaptable than traditional management methods, and they are better suited to the VUCA environment of the digital age. They emphasize collaboration, communication, and continuous feedback.

The digital age is bringing about a shift from the Yang-dominated industrial age to a more Yin-balanced world. This shift is creating new challenges and opportunities, and it is important for us to be aware of the different energies that are at play in order to thrive in this new environment.

The empirical approach makes use of the principle of positive feedback, in which the status of product development is inspected and adapted at short intervals. The best-known framework for agile approaches is Scrum, which was founded by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.

This perspective shows why Yin qualities and feminine power are useful in the  digital age. The transformation of companies towards agile management is a challenge because not only is the culture of the organizations built on masculine principles, but management schools also almost exclusively teach the recipes for success of the industrial age. This applies to all organizations. Authorities are just as challenged as hospitals, NGOs or banks, insurance companies, media companies and technology companies. Hardly any organization can avoid transformation if it wants to flourish in the digital age.

The agile transformation is therefore a learning step towards feminine power. In contrast to masculine strength, which is nourished by external physical forces, this can be found internally. Acting from being is more powerful than doing. Less for more. Facing chaos and uncertainty.

John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio’s scientific study “Athena Doctrine” explored in over 10 countries how feminine principles promote a thriving business while forging long-term relationships with customers that benefit both parties – women and men who like women think and act, create a world worth living in.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which qualities are closer to you, yin or yang?
  • How do you usually act in everyday life, from doing or from being?
  • Do you take a step back first to fully understand the situation or do you jump into action immediately?