Knowledge work is the future, they said. And 'knowledge' work is exactly what is being globalized. More often than not, it's a commodity. And Free Prize Inside does a great job describing how we've let our work slip into the netherworld of commoditization.
We've fooled ourselves into thinking that white-collar work is supposed to be as repetitive and rule-based as running a punch press. - Free Prize Inside
We need more creative, conceptual, innovative work. We need more creative destruction, not less. Not destruction for destruction's sake, though.
Perhaps we resist because we are yearn for some solid ground amidst the whir of chaos and complexity. It may feel as if there are no constants, nothing at all stable...but there is.
We are aware of the existence of a self, of a core in our personality which is unchangeable and which persists throughout our life in spite of varying circumstances, and regardless of certain changes in opinions and feelings. It is this core which is the reality behind the "I," and on which our conviction of our own identity is based. Unless we have faith in the persistence of our self, our feeling of identity is threatened and we become dependent on other people whose approval then becomes the basis for our feeling of identity. Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others...- Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
(I'll share more about Erich Fromm's practice of rational faith in later posts.)
In 1996, as I left the then-secure world of computer programming and tentatively entered into marketing I said to myself: Well, I hope I know what I'm doing. Amidst all the ups and downs of the technology economic lifecycle - I've been threw countless lay-offs - you could always count on landing on your feet as someone was out there that needed C++ code written. Marketing departments were always being chopped and hacked. Engineering was safe.
Security isn't an outside job. I just followed my own inner compass even if it was outrageously out-of-sync. I was just done with programming. Fini. You couldn't pay me enough to do it and I had an inkling of what was next for me. While I follow trends I don't let them unduly influence my direction.
On speaking about his experience at Starbucks (actually Schultz' story is one of the best business stories on following your inner compass I've ever read), we're told:
To move from a small start-up to a respected global brand, [Howard] Schultz declared, the biggest personal challenge was "reinventing yourself." - The Power of Impossible Thinking
I don't mean to alarm anyone unduly. This is actually good news - really, it is. I was just doing a bit of research for another project and if you're not convinced that you need to continually reinvent yourself, this is your wake-up call below. As the authors of The Power of Impossible Thinking offer:
"Beware of the midlife crisis from postponing change."
Computer Associates CEO Sanjay Kumar remarks, "If you work behind a computer screen, your job is up for grabs." - ComputerWorld
A century ago, 40 percent of Americans worked on farms. Today, the farm sector employs about 3 percent of our workforce. But our agriculture economy still outproduces all but two countries. Fifty years ago, most of the US labor force worked in factories. Today, only about 14 percent is in manufacturing. But we've still got the largest manufacturing economy in the world - worth about $1.9 trillion in 2002. We've seen this movie before - and it's always had a happy ending. The only difference this time is that the protagonists are forging pixels instead of steel. And accountants, financial analysts, and other number crunchers, prepare for your close-up. Your jobs are next. After all, to export sneakers or sweatshirts, companies need an intercontinental supply chain. To export software or spreadsheets, somebody just needs to hit Return. - Wired, The New Face of the Silicon Age by Daniel Pink (yes, the same author who's publishing this)
Several recent studies concur that there has been an unexpected and large shift of work since the outsourcing pioneer Citigroup set up a company in India two decades ago. They cite cost advantages as the primary reason. According to Celent, in 2003 the average M.B.A. working in the financial services industry in India, where the cost of living is about 30 percent less than in the United States, earned 14 percent of his American counterpart's wages. Information technology professionals earned 13 percent, while call center workers who provide customer support and telemarketing services earned 7 percent of their American counterparts' salaries.
Experts say that with China, India, the former Soviet Union and other nations embracing free trade and capitalism, there is a population 10 times that of the United States with average wage advantages of 85 percent to 95 percent.
"There has never been an economic discontinuity of this magnitude in the history of the world," said Mark Gottfredson, co-head of the consulting firm Bain & Company's global capability sourcing practice. "These powerful forces are allowing companies to rethink their sourcing strategies across the entire value chain."
- NY Times, "Financial Firms Hasten Their Move to Outsourcing", August 18, 2004 (via NYBanker)
[John] Ludwig, the former Microsoft Corp. executive who co-founded Ignition [Partners, a Seattle VC firm], thinks about the future for his college-age children.
"I am encouraging them to wrap their head around the issue because it is going to be a real fact of life for their careers," Ludwig said. - Seattle PI, "Venture Capital: Weighing pluses and pitfalls of offshoring"
"There is not a board meeting that goes by in which outsourcing does not play a significant role," says [managing partner, Accel Partners, James W.] Breyer. [Accel is a top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firm.] - BusinessWeek, "Look Who's Going Offshore"